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…

Are You On An Emotional Rollercoaster Every Day?

Business roller coaster ride concept

My client, Lauren, came to me a few months ago frustrated that she could not stay joyful all day long. She felt her emotions were a rollercoaster depending on what she was experiencing in the outside world. I asked her to keep a journal so we could look at what was triggering her emotions. When we reviewed her journal, it read 
like this:

I woke up in the morning really excited for the possibilities of my day. I had some toast and coffee and I felt great. I woke the children up and they were very cranky. Steven would not eat breakfast 
and Sophia would not stop screaming. I finally got them out the door 
and I felt so negative and annoyed. Why is my life like this? I bet 
other parents don’t have this type of morning. The children missed the 
bus and I had to drive them to school. I was thirty minutes late for 
work and I was tired and cranky. I went to my desk and saw that my boss was out sick so I had until tomorrow for my project. I felt positive. About two hours later the phone rang and it was my brother asking me for money and I really did not want to lend him money again. I started to feel negative again.

Lauren wanted more emotional balance in her life but she could not just snap her fingers and turn off her thoughts and reactions to the outside world. Lauren wanted to know how she could cultivate an inner joy and space that would sustain her throughout the day no matter what she faced.

Here is my daily practice that I shared with Lauren to help her maintain emotional stability throughout her

1. Gratitude! I wrote about this before in the Attitude of 
Gratitude Post. In the morning when I wake up, before my mind starts going through everything I need to do for the day, I stop and remind myself of all the people and things for which I am grateful. I was never one to list things or keep a routine, but the gratitude list helps me gain a sustainable perspective before I even get out of bed. I have a greater understanding of what is really important to me throughout the day and I am less affected by outside daily events. I also end my days with a gratitude exercise, this time focusing on fortunate circumstances from the day.  A better perspective before I go to bed on the day that has passed allows me to calm my mind, stay hopeful and sleep better.

2. I remember the mantra of Maybe throughout the day. Sometimes when we get upset it is because we believe that we are stuck in a pattern and things are not going our way. We forget that life will change again. We can remind ourselves that as bad as things may look or feel, there are always the possibilities that Maybe what is happening will turn out to be good, Maybe it will get better or Maybe we can make peace and live with what we are experiencing and still be okay.  With Maybe we can return to the present peacefully and have hope for the future.

3. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we have become negative and down until hours or days later. Creating awareness of when and how our emotions get low is an ongoing practice. Sometimes, when clients such as
 Lauren journal their day, it becomes more clear to them when they take dips. By creating awareness 
around our emotional dips and turns, we have a guide as to when to use Maybe and other techniques to ward off too many mood swings. Some people set alarms at specific times during the day when they can look at the clock and take note of what is going on around them and within themselves.  It reminds them to be present and grateful, and the result is awareness of what is important.

4. I make a point of filling my day with little things that remind me of joy. Sometimes it 
is as simple as a cup of tea and other times it is making time for a call with a friend or relative.  I like to spread these little joys throughout the day to
 remind me of the feeling of joy and steer me toward emotional balance.

Having this daily practice does not mean you will never feel sad, negative or anxious.  It merely stops us from dwelling too far into negative emotions for the little and sometimes bigger mishaps that occur during the day.  It helps us keep a bigger perspective on what is really important, as well as all that is still possible in our lives. The more aware we become of the things that throw us off course, the less we will allow daily experiences to overcome our inner joy and path.

Lauren finds the practice is really helping her not feel so desperate and negative every time something unexpected or undesirable happens in her life.  She appreciates what she has and realizes that Maybe is always by her side.

So Maybe give it try.  Who knows what can happen?