Politics of Emotions

While there have been some political discussions and decisions that have led to the commitment of peace for the future, last year has also been fraught with some political shifts that have surprised, confused or have people questioning their future. Online therapy, counselors and crisis help lines saw an uptick in services rendered after the US Presidential election, as people come to grips with a change in power.

Our everyday experiences may confront ‘politics’ at work, school or home as well.

Because hypnosis and the subconscious help to deal with change, perspectives on history, current viewpoints, and how we feel about our future, let’s look to this deeper part of mind to discover better ways to deal with and feel about the political environment in which we find ourselves.

Electing to Feel “Bad”

Whatever your political leanings, most people have something to say about the situation in their own country or of countries around the world. Often these viewpoints carry emotional weight because they touch on policies, plans, and consequences that we may feel strongly about. When something has meaning to us, we tend to feel more.

Remember that emotions, even if they feel uncomfortable or ‘awful’, are important indicators that can lead us to fulfill a need or want that stems from the situation.

In politics, when a situation seems unchangeable, when there’s a status quo that we don’t have any control over, or seems to be ’business as usual’ we might feel despair or frustration. This is the mind telling us that we feel helpless and hopeless, or that what’s happening isn’t working for us. Yeah, so what?

Understanding what we feel is the matter, which in turn asks us to evaluate if the feeling is true or a misperception. Am I really helpless or is there something that can be done (no matter how small)? Or how can I do things differently to help something work better (even if it’s a state of mind)?

Other feelings that tend to pop up in political discourse are fear or ‘anxiety’ which indicates we believe something bad might happen (soon or later on), sadness and grief when we have lost, or lost something (identifying with a ‘side’ or political party or some of the beliefs they stand for), and anger when we believe there is or will be unfairness or injustice happening or having the potential to happen.

If you look at some political campaigns, you can see that emotions are often used to sway voters – touching on the issues that are most dear to them and making issues more painful to them, polarizing them to make the divide in opinions even bigger.

While you might have a healthy skepticism about the media and messages, you may consider having a gentle curiosity to the feelings that arise within yourself because of them.

Lovingly ask yourself “what is this trying to tell me?” and “is this really the case or is there another way of looking at it?” or “if my feeling is telling me something, how can I fulfill the need in a different way?” can often turn an uncomfortable feeling into a wellspring of emotional resources.

Maybe Yes, Maybe No. We’ll see…

You may have heard the story about a farmer, who, when his son fell off a horse and broke his legs, responded to pitying neighbours with “maybe yes, maybe no. We’ll see…” After which his son was saved from having to go to a brutal war (to which the farmer also replied “we’ll see”). There is more before and after that excerpt of the tale, but you might get the picture – sometimes the worst experiences give us something positive  in the end, while the best situations turn out less than what we’re expecting, revealing our ‘ideal’ situation ending up not what we actually need nor want.

The mind doesn’t really like uncertainty and will tend to make a judgement as soon as it can, so it feels more comfortable. We do this naturally so that we can process a lot of data, experiences and choices in a very short amount of time, and for the least emotional cost (for the moment).

It’s natural and happens for very good reason.
However, sometimes our quick choices are based on incomplete information. While most of our decisions will have to be made with imperfect details, it helps to occupy a space of openness and curiosity, and a pinch of optimism. Why?

There are a lot of moving parts in most situations – both environmental as well as human. And most other people don’t necessarily work in the same way we do (or think the exact way we do). This can make other’s actions and reactions a challenge to understand. However, the differences of the parts/people often end up creating a diversity of skills which ends up with a stronger whole.

Taking a step back to look at things or people’s actions with an attitude of “we’ll see” may produce some interesting perspectives. What if everyone was doing the best they could with the resources, history and influences they have? How could we be more compassionate? Or how might their different skills and perspectives produce approaches that might benefit us in the end?

Sometimes just keeping in mind that there may be multiple outcomes to choices, helps us activate the imaginative and creative parts of our minds, taking us outside of our mental ruts to think more widely and maybe understand others a bit better. We may still decide that our beliefs or viewpoints are more useful to us, but by exploring different options and stepping back to review different viewpoints, we end up having more material that may be able to help us to bridge gaps with others, and create even more resourceful solutions to problems at hand.

Whether on a socio-political level or deciding what’s for dinner, these gentle but powerful habits of being open, curious, imaginative and compassionate tend to access possibilities rather than close doors.

Bullies, Bad Choices and Boundaries

Sometimes we feel that if we extend understanding towards others, we may get kicked around in the process. Bullies in the schoolyard come to mind. And even though we know that many people who cause pain are in pain themselves, it doesn’t mean that it’s ok to ‘pass the pain’.

So if we’ve been looking from different perspectives and had a glimpse into a bully’s life, it still doesn’t change him or her. And, unfortunately sometimes it will be something that never changes. So what do you do?

Let’s take the choices and words of politicians and parties as an example. What if a decision made will have a negative impact on your life? What if spiteful words undermine community standards of safety and respect?

Are they staying up nights worrying about your anger, fear and shame? While I’d love to say ‘yes’, unfortunately over the many years I’ve worked with non-functioning relationships, the perpetrators often move through their lives without any understanding of the hurt they cause – and even if they did, probably wouldn’t attribute it to their own actions. So the hurting individual is left holding the bag of negative emotions without anyone to take it from them.

Unfair, right?

But if politicians and parties can’t feel your hurt, could you give yourself the energy and gift of “living well as the best ‘revenge’”? Let’s look at a minor case – I often feel challenged by malfunctioning technology (whenever it doesn’t do what I expect it to do). I can rail against the injustice of the computing world, yet my laptop simply sits there, unaffected – I’m the one burning myself out emotionally. So I’m learning ways to calm myself, finding other options, calling in experts, and releasing myself from an emotional combat that pits me against a (computer) wall. It’s the same with the media, the weather and institutions – taking them on directly (in their ‘big’ form) doesn’t do much good.

Bullies have less power when you don’t give them sources of energy. You don’t have to agree or condone their actions or expressions, but refusing to feed the ‘hate’ machine gives you more energy to feed yourself and focus on the many things in your life that give you your power back.

They may not change because of this, but you will. I’ve seen this with kids I’ve worked with. They don’t play the same part and the whole drama shifts (with them as the hero).  By releasing their responsibility to privately and emotionally struggle against their offenders, they create personal boundaries that protect them from the ‘slings and arrows’ that can now miss rather than hit.

Vote with your Thought Dollar

Yet there are times when anger due to unfairness makes us realise that there IS something we can do about it. There are times when we need to act or be aware of ourselves and our actions, thoughts and feelings.

My cousin sent me an article on choosing to not support companies with dishonest or dangerous health, environmental or social business practices, noting “My Mom taught me this a long time ago”. There are corporations and products I boycott, because businesses tend to notice when people don’t buy. Will my not buying a breakfast cereal or appliance change the establishment? Maybe yes, maybe no – we’ll see – except that not taking a stand in some ways tends to assure that things won’t change.

So when we feel something negative, check it out more deeply and discover that it’s something we can have some influence over, it’s an opportunity to act. Even if it takes the form of a small or grassroots level on a topic that is important to us, we are contributing to a change we want and believe in.

Now let’s look at how this applies to our minds. Would the same apply for the internal dialogue that goes on in our own thoughts and feelings? Are there bullies and bad choices happening within?

If so, can we boycott those detrimental internal messages? Giving suggestions on what we want, rather than what we don’t want helps. Writing them down and repeating them helps (doing it at the beginning and end of day – in bed – tends to be even more powerful). Even simply putting a light on the, often unconscious, patterns of thought and speech can start a change.

Getting someone to note your ‘negatives’ so you hear what others are hearing gives you a place to start turning around the word (and their influence within and without).

Not only is this the most profound grassroots change, but its impact can change generations in the future. When you change your thoughts and feelings, you become a living model to others, especially to those younger than you. Neil Postman wrote “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see” – what seeds are you planting with your thoughts and actions right now?

Whether it is showing examples for respect, advocacy, stewardship, aptitude, compassion and energy within ourselves or with others, can you imagine how these little messages may affect the future? That may be something you’d prefer to spend your time canvassing.

Campaign Managing…

You have the ultimate vote in your own life. We have training in hypnotherapy that can help you learn skills to use your powerful subconscious mind for good. We have short trainings as well as in-class or online certification courses that may support you and your schedule.

If you need an outside supporter to deal with grief, fear, frustration or the uncertainty of the future, I’m here to help. Let me know and we’ll work to get your best life elected.



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