From someone who's gotten plenty upset herself ...
For the past six months, my clients have been stumbling into my office and sinking into the large, plush hypnotherapy chair as if they’ve just been pulled out of a boxing ring, bruised and sweaty. And while emotional turmoil is always an exhausting b*tch, this time, the recent presidential election is at fault.
I can totally relate to my clients’ pain.
Just yesterday, I was accused on social media of joining Hitler’s army.
I had shared my perspective on second-term abortions (meaning after 13 weeks of pregnancy, when the fetus is fully developed) on Facebook and in response was called “selfish and ignorant, a fake, plastic-faced, stupid Russian immigrant who doesn’t know anything” by someone who doesn’t even know me — or that I’m the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and that I have an American passport.
So I was sitting at my computer in the kitchen enraged and typing back a mixture of Russian and English insults when my fifteen-year-old son walked in on me.
Seeing my flushed face and the open Facebook page, he asked, “What are you doing?”
“This person,” I began my rant, pointing at my abuser's comment, “he …”
“Wait, Mom, are you serious?” Zach interrupted. “Why does it matter what he thinks and says about you? You always tell me that my opinion of me is more important than anyone else's opinion of me. So why do you care?”
“Well!” I began — then forced myself to shut my mouth; my kid was watching the way I handle angry people who disagree with me on social media. And he was reminding me that whatever I tell this jerk, it’ll be like pouring gasoline on the fire because there’s no reasoning with raging emotion.
So I took five deep breaths and then, pacing the kitchen, counted from twenty to zero while pouring myself a cup of chamomile-lavender tea infused with valerian and honey ... doing whatever necessary to calm my emotions. I was forcing myself to follow my own preaching protocol to my kids: “Never take action from a negative mental state.” Because it’s a psychological fact that a mind jammed on frenzy can’t produce a productive solution.
Feeling calmer, I deleted the “go f*ck yourself” heading from my post and wrote the following:
"It seems like you have a strong opinion about this topic and you’re a passionate person. So I’m choosing to respect you for having your way of looking at life, and I wish you well."
To which he replied:
"Whatever. For all I know, you might be part of the Russian mob."
To which I replied (while sticking my middle finger at the screen):
"I could be, and I know where you are."
That did it. He left me alone.
I mean, there should be a line between free speech and passive-aggressive bullying, and I feel it’s only right to stand up for yourself.
And so today, talking to my clients, hearing their distress and helping them to identify its origin, I realized there’s something bigger going on here; something that our logical minds are failing to grasp and comprehend. I decided to conduct a mental investigation into what that might be.
Here are my conclusions …
When you are born, your infant mind is a clean slate, open and naïve.
As you get older, you go through life observing your environment, making assumptions about people, life and yourself. Some of these assumptions are positive and result in good-feeling emotions, and some of them are negative, resulting in bad-feeling emotions.
By the age of eleven, you’ve created most of your beliefs, which you start calling your reality. This reality is "yours" because each of us is unique in how we perceive the world.
However, from my experience working with thousands of clients for over a decade, there are some charged, universal mental statements we start telling ourselves once upon a time, such as, “I am helpless, out of control, unworthy, unimportant—and I don’t know what to do.” This is how most children feel as they witness grown-ups fighting, lying, manipulating, judging and blaming one another as they handle life the best they can, based on their own level of emotional maturity and emotional intelligence.
And so, here we are, finally adults — except that we’re still running this childhood software installed in our subconscious minds, living in constant conflict between who we are today and our unresolved childhood insecurities.
What does that have to do with the recent election? Everything.
As conditioned human beings, we always react to our environment. This election triggered every single fear and insecurity each of us own, down to the depths of our souls, down to the very fabric of our ancestral DNA. Now, awakened, our inner turmoil is roaring in our face, making us mad.
And it’s not really about President Trump or Secretary Clinton, border walls (we all have doors and locks on our homes to keep our families safe) or abortion (something intimate and personal between a woman and God).
It’s really about what these candidates and issues represent to each of us, and which emotional strings they pull.
A lot of this has to with social media.
Because it’s not about Trump or the political landscape, it’s about technology.
We can now know about anything happening around the world at the speed of light. It’s a constant bombardment, with bits and pieces of data flying at us like bullets before we have a chance to protect ourselves. Just opening your iPhone can suck you in. We get swept into this emotional madness of collective consciousness before we have a chance to self-reflect and gain control of our personal emotions.
If we’re not strong internally, we just collapse under this fire of data coming at us so rapidly.
Realizing this, we have the opportunity to think in advance about our responses.
Will we continue to react from our childhood pain or respond as mature adults?
Because ultimately, we all want the same things:
- To be heard and understood.
- To feel safe, acknowledged and important.
- To be free and have a voice that matters.
- To trust that life is on our side, something we may not have felt in our childhood.
If we never got that reassurance from our parents, and now we’re not getting it from our government, we throw a fit. And even though it’s valid to want these things, it’s not mature or realistic to demand them from either our imperfect parents or our elected officials.
When I work with my hypnotherapy clients, this is what I do to help them heal ...
I ask, “Why are you really upset? “What is the emotion behind your pain?”
Usually, the emotion comes from feelings of disappointment, helplessness, loss of a sense of freedom, or fear of an uncertain future.
Then, I ask, “Have you ever felt like this before?”
Because every emotion has its point of origin. And this is where it gets interesting.
Often, something happened in their childhood — something bad and traumatic — during which they felt the same way they are feeling right now.
It could be that mommy and daddy were fighting a lot or getting a divorce or their parents were drinking or had a mental illness and physically or emotionally abused them, and they felt powerless to fix these grown-up issues.
Now I’m going to say something wild, yet psychologically rational: The election may have reminded some people of their dysfunctional families.
As bizarre as it may sound, within this association lies the potential for healing.
We are all being challenged to rise above our deep-seated pain to glimpse the horizon of wisdom and maturity.
It’s from this broader perspective that self-assured, confident, self-respecting, emotionally healthy people handle things. They communicate with respect, even when they disagree; they express their opinions without condemning others; they take responsibility for their emotions and work on finding internal balance; they use their minds to focus on positive aspects of life; and they see life symbolically, as if a gigantic mirror is reflecting back at them how they feel inside.
So, sometimes I wonder if this current global divide represents the divide each of us feels within ourselves, with our minds and hearts so often in disagreement.
What if our true destiny isn't to fight or hate, but to self-reflect and alter outdated mental perceptions causing us such excruciating emotional pain?
By doing this, we shed negative karma from the wings of our soul, truly setting ourselves free to realize that our personal power, freedom and worthiness are already deep within us.
When we sense this, we have nothing to prove … We can just simply be.
Or, you can attack me, blame me, and judge me by running all your old patterns and, by hurting me and others, feel better about yourself.
Because, after all, free will is a powerful thing.
Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Consultant. She is the author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family. Call her for an office or phone consultation to attain mental-emotional alignment and close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.