What’s Needed in these Uncertain Times? Maybe More Empathy…

hands in shape of love heart

In the fourth week of the Trump Administration, with the news changing so quickly every day, we are once again reminded that we need to stay grounded. I have been staying active in my community and riding most of the tumultuous waves by practicing the mindset of Maybe. But the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who came to this country when she was a teenager and was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration officials during a routine check-in, shook me deeply. In addition to Maybe, I found myself needing another way to cope. I watched the live news coverage of Ms. Rayos sitting in a van with immigration officials waiting to be deported. Her two kids, husband, friends and immigrant-rights advocates tried to block the van from moving. As I sat on the couch with my two children by my side, watching the news, I could not stop crying. Immigrant-rights advocates have portrayed Ms. Rayos as a victim of President Trump’s sweeping new deportation orders. At the same time, her deportation has been viewed differently by others who have praised Trump’s immigration orders because Ms. Rayos had a felony conviction. That conviction stemmed from a 2008 work-site raid on employees at amusement parks, Ms. Rayos among them, who were working using false social security numbers.

The deportation of undocumented immigrants was not a policy originally created by the Trump administration. The Obama administration deported millions of undocumented immigrants over the last eight years. Donald Trump and his administration might be casting a wider net, deporting immigrants with no criminal records, but both administrations have supported the removal of people present in the United States illegally. In an effort to understand and process what’s been happening, I called a few friends who voted for Hilary Clinton and some who voted for Donald Trump about these immigration issues. The results have been interesting.

My friends who voted for Hilary Clinton were not totally aware that millions of people were deported during the Obama administration and all felt that Ms. Rayos should be allowed to stay in the country. My friends who voted for President Trump were under the impression that Obama did nothing to deport undocumented immigrants. Unanimously, my pro-Trump friends felt it was the Continue reading…

A Survival Guide For Uncertain Times Week #3: Give up Positive Thinking

American optimism and positive economic sentiment in the United States of America as a national government hope metaphor as a wiper clearing the gray dark wet clouds with 3D illustration elements.

It is the end of week three of Donald Trump’s presidential term, and this week my Survival Guide will address the pitfalls of positive thinking. I have spoken to many people who didn’t vote for Donald Trump and are now struggling with his daily tweets, executive orders and Cabinet appointments. I find that many of the people I spoke to are either completely negative about Trump’s Presidency or are trying to stay positive and failing miserably.

When you are completely comfortable with uncertainty, a positive outlook comes naturally. You are not rattled by new events or tweets and can sustain faith that life will work out one way or another. It doesn’t mean you are not concerned or active in your community, you just tend not to worry so much about the future. Most people, though, have some degree of fear of the unknown, and turn either to negative or to positive thinking to help themselves feel certain, while deep down they are really afraid. The problem is that the certainty we seek doesn’t exist. The more we try to lock into any perspective, the more pain and chaos we feel.

A person feeling negativity towards the Trump administration will feel pain most of the time because they are always projecting that whatever is occurring today cannot get better or that bad things are sure to happen in the future. The person Continue reading…

A Survival Guide for Uncertain Times Week 2: Communicate

Ponte che collega le persone

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” –Mother Teresa

A few weeks ago, I attended the New York City Women’s March. When I got home, I received a call from a friend who voted for Donald Trump.  He felt the Women’s March was divisive and portrayed those who had voted for Donald Trump as horrible people. He said he was not a horrible person simply because he voted for Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton. He told me he had seen on the news signs from the march that proclaimed, “He is not my president,” and “Dump Trump.” He heard a clip from Madonna in Washington, DC that he found violent and upsetting. I tried to express to him how wonderful the March was for me and how the people at these marches care about important issues facing the world today. But my friend could only focus on the negatives he has seen on the news.

As I lay awake in bed that night, I felt overwhelmed that my relationship with this dear old friend had become so argumentative. The next day I called him back. The first thing I said was, “Donald Trump is President of the United States.  I don’t want to discuss the election and I just want to focus on what is happening today.  Let’s talk facts.”

As the discussion continued, the things my friend said to me sounded like a string of Fox News sound bites. I probably sounded to him like a tape of MSNBC sound bites!  Again, we were getting nowhere.  My friend and I took a pause. We each Continue reading…

Is There Ever Just One Side To A Story?

houseEverything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.  Marcus Aurelius

One day my daughter came home upset that she was excluded by her two best friends. I had witnessed her being excluded on a prior occasion and my heart was breaking for her. She cried inconsolably and I couldn’t even understand most of what she was saying. The next day I dropped her off at school and saw the mother of one of the best friends. She mentioned to me that she had heard that my daughter was upset the other day. I then cautiously told her what my daughter had told me. Her response was to say that her daughter often comes home feeling excluded by my daughter and their other friend. As first, it was hard to imagine that this mom was telling me an accurate account of my daughter’s behavior and then I remembered a conversation between two characters in the book The Spiritualist by Megan Chance:

“Imagine you come upon a house painted brown. What color would you say the house was?”

“Why brown, of course.”

“But what if I came upon it from the other side, and found it to be white?”

“That would be absurd. Who would paint a house two colors?”

He ignored my question. “You say it’s brown, and I say it’s white. Who’s right?”

“We’re both right.”

“No,” he said. “We’re both wrong. The house isn’t brown or white. It’s both. You and I only see one side. But that doesn’t mean the other side doesn’t exist. To not see the whole is to not see the truth.”

No matter the facts of the situation, it turned out both of our daughters were feeling excluded. I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “to not see the whole is to not see the truth.” I knew I needed to respect and try to understand this little girl’s perspective of my child’s behavior regardless of what I originally believed. Maybe there was another side of the situation that I was not able to see from my vantage point. With this realization, I suggested to the other mom that we should speak separately to the girls about how the other one has been feeling and then let them speak to each other. The minute the girls got on the phone, they realized they were both feeling the same way, talked about for it for 2 minutes, apologized and began playing a web game together as if nothing had happened.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how someone else could have another perspective when we feel so right about how we perceive a situation. But if we are willing to pause and think about why the other person feels the way that they do, we might open our hearts a bit. Being right doesn’t always create the best relationships or resolutions to conflict, but compassion and understanding can work miracles.

So today, try to take a deep breath when you are disagreeing with your co-worker, your child, or a neighbor. Try to remember that you are only standing on “one side of the house” and there might be more to the situation than meets the eye. Try to step back from your position and see the situation from their perspective. You might not agree with the other person, but Maybe some understanding will lead you to a better resolution and improve your relationship. Just Maybe!