Nearly all of my conversations these days–at least with those with whom I share beliefs and viewpoints–begin with check-ins about current events. And one of the first things we check in about is our current emotional state as we watch the train wreck of the Trump presidency.
Nearly always, we first acknowledge emotional overload. The most common feelings are outrage, exhaustion and despair, all happening all at the same time, all of the time.
Yet we also each go about our daily lives, somehow juxtaposing our individual priorities and choices and circumstances against a background of hyperspeed news cycles in which “Breaking News” is permanently affixed to the chyron. “It’s a centipede, and the shoe continues to drop,” said Sen. John McCain last week.
For those of us who remember Watergate, this isn’t new. Yet it feels qualitatively different, because at least during Watergate our elected legislative branch was unified around the solution.
How do I stay sane and in service during this national nightmare? That’s the question I constantly bring to writing practice. Here are a few of my own responses:
- Writing practice. Five-to-thirty minutes of daily writing practice–even when I think I don’t have time!–is crucial to my resilience.
- Talking about it. Ranting, venting, and witnessing with those who can go there. Speaking truth to power in everyday activism. My speed-dial slots are filled up with Washington power brokers.
- Not talking about it. There are people I love dearly with whom I cannot have rational conversations about politics and government, and we have agreed to disagree and talk about anything but this.
- Eating clean. I know what my optimal nutritional plan is, and I adhere to it because to do otherwise leaves me vulnerable to stress responses.
- Perceiving beauty and participating in it every day.
- Praying. Acknowledging my powerlessness over the situation and placing my faith in a Divine Intelligence that will “hold up all this falling” (Rilke, “Autumn”).
This Wednesday at the Journalverse we have another Pioneer Conversation with the legendary Christina Baldwin. We’ll talk about how we can walk our talk and talk our walk with those with whom we have ideological differences. Because the conversations I can’t have are personally painful, I’m looking forward to a deep dive. I hope you’ll join us Wednesday at 9 PT, 10 MT, 11 CT and noon ET. Adjust for your time zone if you’re overseas.
Your turn! How do you manage the emotional overload? Share your best strategies in the comments. Thanks!
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