Is Your Child More Anxious and Worried Since the Election?

During the election season, many of our children experienced a tremendous amount of stress and worry about who would win the Presidency.  It became especially apparent to me the night of the election. My daughters had invited a bunch of friends over to watch the election results.  As it became more clear from the news that Donald Trump might win, my younger daughter and her friends, who are all about 14 years old, looked at me with tears in their eyes and asked, “Allison, are we going to die?”

I was certainly not happy that Donald Trump might become President, but I wondered why they were reacting so acutely to the news.  “Why do you think that?” I asked. One after the other, they gave me their reasons why.  One child said, “My mom said if Donald Trump wins we will all be doomed.” Another girl said, “My dad said Donald Trump is incompetent and can’t run this country.” My daughter said, “Mom, I heard you ask dad ‘Do you want Donald Trump’s finger on the button?” I realized at that moment that a key reason they were so upset was because of the conversations many of us were having in front of our children about Donald Trump becoming President.  Interestingly, some of my friends who voted for Donald Trump also admitted to having had very little filter when they were having conversations about Hilary Clinton in front of their children.

As I looked at the fearful faces of these young girls, all I could do was imagine how worried and anxiety-ridden I would be if I were a 14-year-old child hearing from my parents that the world was not safe if a particular person became President. With much less life experience, our children view these comments as 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 Survivor Guide To The Trump Era: Embrace Uncertainty

PHOTOART fantastic adventure in a storm

A week before the inauguration of Donald Trump, I was on an airplane going to Florida. There was a tremendous amount of turbulence on the trip so I gripped both of my armrests tightly. As I braced myself, my body got very tense and I started feeling stressed and worried. It occurred to me after several minutes as my shoulders became tenser that it was ridiculous to hold my armrests for security—I was 30,000 feet in the air!  I released my hands and placed them in my lap. I started just to breathe deeply. I slowly became calmer as I sought to let go of my fear. The turbulence lasted for most but not all of the flight. When we landed in Florida, it was 80 degrees, sunny and very pleasant.

I imagine many people can relate. The turbulence on the plane made me uncomfortable because it triggered feelings of uncertainty about my safety. In everyday life, many of us feel emotional turbulence when life is uncertain.  We try to avoid these feelings by making careful decisions about our jobs, relationships and our kids.  Even though intellectually we know certainty does not exist, we strive for it, trying to play it safe and taking solace in our decisions. But life is filled with unexpected events, and the minute something unforeseen happens, the uncertainty of the situation can activate fear and negativity about what might happen in the future.

This is one of the reasons why Donald Trump makes so many people uncomfortable.  He brings our fear of uncertainty right in front of our noses every day.  He brings us turbulence.  Whether you like Donald Trump or not, he reminds Continue reading…

The Day After the Election, Will We Still Be Friends?  

Russia October. 10, 2016. Debates on election. Two speaker on tribunes. Vote for me. Concept of voting, ellection and balloting. Election campaign. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Now that the Presidential debates are over, we can start to think about what life will be like after the election on November 8th.  This election season has not only been tough for our country, but also has wreaked havoc on many of our personal relationships. Friends and acquaintances have argued for months on Facebook regarding positions the candidates have taken regarding crime and foreign policy, and both sides have contemplated hitting the UNFRIEND button.   Siblings have fought about immigration policies and the meaning of what constitutes a sexual assault and are left wondering if they can still have Thanksgiving dinner together.  Best friends who have spoken daily for decades have stopped calling each other because of differing opinions about who is best for the Supreme Court and the truth of the latest allegations against each candidate. There is a little girl at my niece’s school who refuses to have a play date with anyone who supports a particular nominee. I, myself, have gotten into a few arguments this campaign season with people in my life whom I have loved for a long time.  I began to judge their hearts and values based on their political positions, taking me to a dark place.  I wondered how I could ever enjoy their company or even speak to them again if I truly believe they have assumed harmful, hateful views, supporting someone I believe to be untrustworthy and unfit to be the leader of the free world.

I sat with my feelings for many months, and I came to the realization that how we vote does not represent the entirety of who we are as people.  Now some may argue with me based on what has been said or done by both Presidential candidates this season, but if we all think about it, my statement is true.  I have seen friends who have argued on Facebook about gun control and nonetheless are devoted parents, or charitable people and amazing friends. Siblings fighting over immigration policies have stood by each other through divorces, illnesses and the passing of their parents.  Best friends who are now hardly speaking have previously taken each other’s kids to after-school programs, attended charity events together to feed the homeless and even helped clean up parks on weekends.  All of these wonderful qualities in each of these people make up the fabric of this country, and these qualities are arguably as important as their vote in this presidential election.  Yes, who we vote for says a lot about who we are, but it does not define everything in our hearts.  People are complicated and why they vote a certain way or see the world the way they do is based on a lifetime of successes, failures, hopes, and fears, and dreams for what they see as a better tomorrow.

This country will need to heal in the days, weeks and months following the election. In my opinion, the only way to do so is to look for the good in each person in your life and try to repair these relationships and our communities. Lead by example by getting involved with the issues brought up during this campaign season that matter to you. Most of all, choose kindness to everyone, even those who do not agree with how you see the world, while continuing to stay truthful to who you are and what you believe.

The most amazing thing about this country is the infinite ability for all of us each day to find common ground and begin again.   So on November 9th, let’s start over and invite our siblings and anyone else we have disagreed with this election season back for Thanksgiving dinner. Just MAYBE the divide will seem a little smaller when we focus on how important we are to each other and how important community, family and friendship is in all of our lives.

Originally Published in Psychology Today