Have you seen the latest fast reel of Trump stereotypes and the things he says about women and rally protesters? Ooph. It kills me. Republican or Democrat, Left or Right, it is pretty alarming for women or anyone who believes in nonviolence to watch that real. This election season, more than any other, I have been really embarrassed, ashamed, shocked and outraged at how we do our political campaigning in the US.
But before I could disown half the electorate, something weird happened. Two colleagues, both male, were doing some over the top bashing of Trump and his followers on Facebook the other day and I got mad and protective of Trump. Why was I protecting someone whose actions I abhor? Maybe my urge to protect Trump was about protecting parts of myself?
Trump-style power and wealth came up at the Interpersonal Neurobiology Conference in Los Angeles last week. The nation’s leading neuroscientists and researchers came together to talk about diversity, culture, relationships and the brain. What we learned was the brain under the influence of power and wealth has a propensity to hoard, rather than share.
The human brain on power just doesn’t automatically want to do right by others. At the conference, Allan Schore talked about the irrefutable link between neurotoxins in the environment and the increase in Autsim and ADHD in little boys. He also talked about parental leave and the impact on children. And yet we continue pouring chemicals into our atmosphere and limiting the time parents get to bond with their babies, because the brains in charge cannot bring themselves to let go of wealth and power. Research by Dr. David Spiegel shows emotional support for terminal cancer patients is as effective at prolonging life as chemo, but our medical system and the healthcare policies we pass don’t fund these treatments. Our politics discounts clear research that proves what human beings need to live well these days.
We may picture a greedy old white man in a suit, but any of us could fall prey to this kind of hoarding, aggression, and never-enough-attention seeking. Our anatomy is to blame. This explains the outrageous candidates who are stealing the political stage at the moment. Self interest, not collective interest, is ruling.
Inside of every single one of us a Donald Trump lives. We have bashed our unsightly Trumpy parts for so long guess what happens? Disenfranchised parts of ourself come roaring back with vengeance, vitriol and selfishness. And they come roaring back inside and outside. We can get outraged at why a Trump kind of politics is happening. But this kind of politics is a mirror of what is happening inside us all.
Our Trump self is winning when we prioritize consumerism over presence, competition over relating, amassing wealth over health. For many who come into my therapy office there are personal wake up calls: a failed marriage, a suicidal teen, a foreclosure, terminal illness, being fired or the death of a loved one that flips a switch and they use therapy to bring all of the parts of themselves into focus. But for the rest of us who don’t have these personal wake up calls, let this political climate become the call and use it to wake up. And I mean for everyone. I don’t care what side of the political aisle you are on. Some of my closest friends have different politics than I do. We love each other very much and I aim to hear them because I love them and they aim to hear me.
You might be tempted to close this article down and go grab a glass of Chardonnay or go to the mall to go shopping because partying and shopping seem easier than actually contending with the idea that we all have disenfranchised, unloved parts of ourselves, and power-hungry Trumpy parts we don’t want to befriend. When we don’t learn to relate to all the parts of who we are, exiling them to a jail cell, they come out in ways we aren’t so stoked about. Mine too.
Here are some questions you can ponder, journal about and relate with inside yourself and maybe outside with someone you trust or a therapist. Our self heals in relationship so talking with others is important.
- Who is your inner underdog? Get an image of your underdog. What does he or she wear? How old is s/he? What would your underdog say if it had a voice? What does it need?
- Locate your inner arrogance. Same thing, get a picture of the part of you that is arrogant. Say hi. Tell it you would like to be closer. What is that arrogance and righteousness protecting?
- Locate the part of you that judges, blames and scapegoats people who are different than you (homeless folks / folks with different color skin / folks with different politics)? Get a picture of this part of you. What does s/he most long for? What pain does it carry?
- Imagine accepting all of you. You are a big ball of everything. Feel your body expand into a big balloon and feel all the pieces of you taking up an inch or two of space inside that larger balloon. No piece gets to take over your whole body. Locate your inner Trump and your inner Mother Theresa. Love them all and listen to them all. What does that feel like? Now imagine accepting the everything in others. What is that like?
Getting deliberate about our own psychological growth paves the way for us to have more deliberate politics. We may think the current political climate is nuts and has nothing to do with us personally. I say it has everything to do with us personally. We are all getting a massive wake up call. The political and social mess outside is evidence of our own disenfranchised psyche. Take up the investigation and see for yourself. Investigate with me all the places in your heart where you have disenfranchised feelings. Go visit those parts, invite them in for dinner and be a welcoming host. Ask questions. Listen. Don’t turn away from anything you find. When there is no more inner disenfranchisement, we will be able to solve the outer disenfranchisement on full display in so many places in our crazy American politics.
I am working on my next piece about Political Posts on Facebook and have crafted a survey. Please take it here. 5 questions. 5 minutes. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Psyched-Magazine