Obstacles to Your Growth - Part 3: PESD: Post Election Stress Disorder… WTF?
How to overcome news overload in the 2018 mid-term election
Yeah, we all know this election is important. Aren’t they all?
It seems the level of hyperbole around these midterm selections is higher than any I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
In fact, as I listened to KNX 1070 News Radio in LA this morning, I heard an interviewee at a polling station mention how this year’s election stress was “worse than any American has experienced in their lifetime.” HUH????? 1960s and early 70s, anyone?
Yesterday, on the same station, I heard a story talking about Post-Election Stress Disorder. (I hope you just rolled your eyes like I did.) And yes, evidently, it’s a thing…
Where’s does this stress come from? From allowing ourselves to be told what to think by others. From allowing our political discourse to become on par with the play-by-play announcing of a sporting event.
Announcer Bob: Wow! Party A can really make some gains if they just get their act together on the national field today.
Announcer Steve: That’s right Bob! But remember, Party B has a plan to thwart them as they make a run for the polls. Getting a lead won’t be easy and the competition to stay ahead’s gonna be tough. Let’s go down on the field for an update from Susie. What’s going on out there, Susie?
Sideline Susie: Thanks guys. It’s pandemonium today and both teams are excited at their chances for victory. I spoke with representative from both teams for their strategies and insights…
Oh, please fucking spare me… That’s not discourse. It’s pablum. It’s cheap. It’s demeaning to the prospect of an informed electorate, and ultimately demeaning to YOU.
Unfortunately, it’s also easy to digest… so we eat it up like potato chips and then wonder why we feel like shit the next day.
As we identify with political ideas at this level of sport, we are creating an emotional connection to our identity. If our team is winning, we’re important…we are literally “part of the winning team.”
And the more we hear these ideas repeated, the more they are embedded into our subconscious as our own beliefs… Not only are you what you eat in terms of food, but you are what you consume in terms of ideas.
This need to feel important, this need to feed our egos to validate that we in some way matter, comes in response to the messages that we receive from our chosen “news” outlets every day, hour, minute that tell us either 1) How important our views matter, as they preach to the choir, or 2) how dangerous the views of the other side are.
I place the term “news” in quotes to express my disdain for what has become of political discourse in America.
We have become polarized in overload of micro-casting so that we only hear what we want to hear. Selecting Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC as our outlets of choice, we experience validation of our opinions and are told what to think about the other side.
That’s not educational and enlightening. It’s stupefying – literally.
Rather than expanding our ability to be open to finding new solutions, we hunker down, dig our heels in and fight for OUR opinion so that we in some way can believe that we exist and matter. Because, well, if you changed your opinion, what would that mean about you as a person?
Would you still exist if you changed your mind? Would your friends who have the same ideas still like you?
Scary thoughts. Ideas that are at the very root of fear-mongering from both political parties.
If you strongly identify with the ideas of one party, then by default, you must absolutely disagree with the other party’s views… because, well, there’s only two options, right? Black/White; Left/Right; Dem/Repub…
These are false dichotomies (click on that for the definition). Nothing is ever always black or white, there are a multitude of shades of grey… which grey are you? (OR, if you prefer color, nothing is ever black or white, what color of the spectrum are you?)
The process of fear mongering works like this: If I am affiliated with Party A, and I am told (repeatedly) that Party B hates the ideas that I believe, then they must not like ME. Therefore, I can’t disagree with anything that my party does, because if I lose this connection of people, then I’ll be alone…and if I’m alone, I’ll die.
You are stronger than that. Humans are social animals. In our infanthood we need our parents or other adults to take care of us and keep us alive. We learn to act like they act, at times even believing what they believe so that they won’t toss us aside for disagreeing.
As adults, that’s a weak way of being. Grow the fuck up. Seriously people…you aren’t 5 years old anymore.
I’m not saying necessarily to change your beliefs. I’m asking you to deeply examine them and see how you truly feel about them.
Do these Party Beliefs FULLY represent you, or do they do so only a part of the time? If those beliefs are not representative of you, why are you choosing to give up your power to voice your thoughts?
I’m asking you to own your ideas for yourself, rather than for other people. When you are comfortable in your ownership of your ideas, then you can engage in discourse without being threatened by another person’s point of view.
By actively living in your personal power and beliefs, you can open space for listening and discussion that adds to understanding rather than merely repeating polarizing jingoistic soundbites.
Harlan Ellison said it better than I can at this moment. This quote has inspired me for decades:
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” ― Harlan Ellison
As you consider your choices today, and see the results tallied tonight, how can you stay above the stress of being mired in news overload and hyperbole?
1) If you voted, and I hope you did, remember that you took the first action that is in your power as an American citizen. You exercised your right to vote and have a voice in democracy.
2) Get out of the constant din of noise of opinions and results. Once you vote, you have no control over the outcome. Stop being led to be told you are less-than. Know that you do have other power – you can run for office, you can choose to impact the world at a local level and get involved with your party or mission of choice.
3) Stop letting others tell you how to think. Take action, make decisions that are right for you. That’s not selfish. That’s prudent and strong. Turn off the TV and radio if the news is stressing you out…that mindset is not helping you to connect to your ability to make an informed choice.
And in the end, that’s what the political parties and micro-casters are afraid of – you being truly informed. Because once you are, you’ll see right through their bullshit.
If you are stressed by the state of the world, how can I help you regain your strength and balance? Contact me today and vote for you as the most important person in your life.