Working with Your Trump Fear

managing fear

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when my fear is gone I will turn and face fear’s path, and only I will remain.”

~ The character Paul Atreides
from Dune
by Frank Herbert

 

Since the election, many persons are fearing for themselves and the well-being of others. I have seen it daily in my practice as a counselor.

Fear of losing hard-fought-for rights, fear of deportation, antisemitic purges, race wars, a new Hitler, even Europeans fearing the end of Western Civilization -the list goes on and on. Fear porn fans the flames. Unbridled fear has driven some to suicide.

Such uncontrolled fear en masse can have dangerous consequences. Depth psychologist, Carl Jung, was perhaps the first to note how the individual’s failure to come to terms with his/her own psychology could contaminate the psyche of a nation as occurred in Germany preceding World War II.

How then can we contribute to the quelling of the emotional storm gripping ourselves and our country? I suggest several ways: take personal responsibility for quelling the fearful storm within ourselves and restrain from contributing to fear porn through conversation.

Perhaps evolution developed our instinct to cower or run like hell when we feel afraid. But that does not transmute fear, it only distances from us from fear. The fear remains within, lurking for an opportunity to resurge.

For fear to be transformed, we need to acknowledge its presence, feel it (but not to the point of overwhelm), and be with it in grounded presence until its sensation dissipates. (See Turning Towards, Not Away from Difficult Emotions) Thereby we discover fears secret: fear is powerless when met with presence.

Reason helps to bridle fear. The election does not prove the United States is racist or xenophobic. The U.S. has approximately 350 million persons. 230 million were eligible to vote. 47 percent of the eligible voters voted (approximately 110 million). Of these, the majority voted for Clinton. Of the 50 million who voted for Trump, many persons were men and women of goodwill who simply see the world differently, wanting the best for their families and the nation. And among these, yes some were racist, some xenophobes. In short, a small percentage of Americans could be considered racist or xenophobic.

The experts contribute to the hysteria with their fear porn. These talking heads, who some call the “intellectual-yet-idiot class”, have already proved their lack of skill with regarding to predicting the election outcome. Perhaps they are just as inept when predicting the future, a future which in fact does not exist, except as a figment of imagination occurring in the mind’s present moment.

Unlike the talking heads, we can remember to not pollute the social environment with fear porn by managing our own fear when we share our concerns and by monitoring how we share our concerns so as to not incite fear in others.

The next four years will not be easy for progressives. However the journey may be lightened somewhat for ourselves and our nation by our taking personal responsibility to manage our fear.

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