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Living with Political Trauma- A series...

Most Americans are currently experiencing mental and emotional stress due to the high conflict environment created by the current party in political power. We are alternately angry, scared and worried on a daily basis by many of the words and actions our current political leaders are choosing.

When the mental and emotional stress is repetitive, worsening and we aren't sure when or if it will end, and the choices our political leaders make threaten our health, safety,  ability to make a living and our ability to agree on truth and a shared reality...

We are being collectively victimized and experiencing collective and personal trauma.

How do we cope with this?

Step 1.

Acknowledge we are being victimized by our current political system.

You may notice a lot of time is being spent on arguing if we can trust our government and if politicians really mean what they're saying or understand the consequences of their actions. This is a strategy. As long as we are questioning our reality and concentrating our energies on trying to figure out someone else's motives, we are not taking care of ourselves.

If you are a relatively healthy person in mind, body and spirit and making relatively healthy choices for yourself and your community, you can trust yourself.

This can not be overstated. And trusting yourself is a healthy choice when you're a healthy person.

Anyone who tells you different is lying to you and attempting to manipulate you. Whether they are doing it consciously or not doesn't matter, because they are doing it regardless.

And if you are a person who lives or has lived with PTSD, this ongoing assault on the truth is challenging you to care for your health and well-being more consciously and consistently. 

So, yes. Truth is under assault. We are being lied to, victimized and traumatized on a daily basis by a seriously dysfunctional and dangerous government in power. It is attempting to manipulate us by calling lies the truth and having us question our shared reality. This is hard to accept and very scary. Our bodies and our brains know this is going on and they are trying to protect us. They sense the danger. 

Step 2.

Understand how your body and brain cope with trauma.

The body's automatic response to stress/danger is to fight, flee and freeze. This response is triggered by our autonomic nervous system, most specifically the sympathetic. The sympathetic response to stress/trauma/danger is to dump hormones to get the body ready to fight, flee and freeze. In other words, to help us survive.

How are you personally reacting, most often, to the daily political assault? Are you posting, picketing and raging? Escaping, eating, drinking, ignoring, rationalizing? Numbing out, dreaming, dissociating, giving up, going along?

These are all sympathetic coping mechanisms our body's use to help us survive. And the more conscious we are of them and why we use them, the healthier our relationship with our trauma response system can be. Notice how your body and brain are reacting to the ongoing assault. Jot down your personal trauma response coping mechanisms. Thank them, and evaluate them. Which of them promote health?. Which of them, when overused, create disease processes? Then, evaluate your tool-kit of self-care. If you have one, use it. And use it regularly. If you don't have a self-care tool-kit, it is time to create one.

In Part 2, we will talk about trauma coping mechanisms and the self-care tool-kit. Until, then I wish you health, healing and self-care!