Are you distracted, furious, unsteady, sad, or agitated in the wake of last week’s election? Does any overheard conversation, news report, tweet or Facebook post with Donald Trump’s image trigger feelings of anxiety, alienation, fury, or disgust? If so, you probably have #TrumpTrauma, one of the Terrible Triad of Political Exhaustion. It’s time to start recovering.
What is Trump Trauma?
Trump Trauma is an agitated, negative intrapersonal emotional state dominated by feelings of relentless fear, anger and sadness triggered by the results of the 2016 United States Presidential election. Do any of these feelings below resonate with you?
- I’m spending so much time dealing with terror, horror and disgust that my friends are worried about me.
- When I see middle-aged white males, I wonder if they voted for him and get upset.
- I’m so exhausted that I’m falling behind at work and daily life chores.
- I can’t detach from my phone or Facebook because I need to know what he’s doing.
- Thoughts of the election are in my mind when I fall asleep and when I awaken.
Still not sure? Try this Trump Trauma Quiz:
Score each feeling in response to this statement.
When I think that soon, Donald Trump and his team will lead the United States, I feel
(Circle the feelings you’re having. Then, on a scale of 1-5 with 1 very low or infrequently and 5 very high or all the time, how would you rate the intensity of your feelings today?)
despair | disoriented | lonely | disrespected | worried | alienated | exhausted | fearful | angry
If your score is over 20, you’ve got Trump Trauma and I’d like to provide you with options to increase your resilience and move forward..
Why Not Stay Angry? It’s Moral and Motivational.
Yes, the election outcome is fueling a great increase in activism, philanthropic giving and commitment to fighting social evils. That’s great. It is unifying those who feel the same moral obligation to heal the world. And, it is these negative emotions that often move us into action. Perhaps you’re thinking, if we let them go, we might slip back into the inaction that allowed this catastrophe in the first place. I can’t live with that. Makes sense. But, there is a bigger picture to consider.
Your Trump Trauma may be the torch that ignited your motivational flame. However, continuing to hold it until it consumes you is antithetical to your goals and well-being. You’ll need energy to fuel whatever actions you want to take next.
Restore Yourself First
There is a dangerously high cost of continuing to live in the emotionally-agitated, negative state of Trump Trauma. The negative feelings you are experiencing are depleting you and interfering with your ability to restore your personal resources. Your personal resources are your physical, social, psycho-emotional and cognitive energies that you use to conduct your life. Your ability to stay awake (physical), your ability to be patient (emotional), your ability to solve problems (cognitive).
We know the cause; now, it’s time to start restoring yourself. To return to your more resilient state, you’ll need to 1) recognize what’s depleting you now, 2) remember what restores you and then, 3) take action to use that knowledge to recover. Try this process:
Step 1: Determine behaviors and conditions which are DEPLETING your personal resources.
a. What resources are suffering?
b. What can I do to reduce or remove my exposure to them?
Getting on Facebook and reading posts is mostly DEPLETING.
- Reading Facebook posts about him and his presidency increases my fear, agitation, and frustration. It is also consuming time that I need to spend with with live humans or doing my work.
- Set a timer that regulates the time and frequency I spend on Facebook. Pass over or just delete posts depicting Trump team members. Ask people to text me directly in lieu of PMing or otherwise contacting me via Facebook so that I can disengage.
Step 2: Determine behaviors and conditions that are reliably RESTORATIVE.
a. What resources do they replenish?
b. What can I do to get more of them in my life right away?
Going dancing, to a movie or another social event is RESTORATIVE
- Helps me get out of the house, away from the technology, feel socially supported. Distracts me. Gets me moving physically. Encourages me to take a shower and get dressed in decent clothes. Helps me see that the larger world is still okay and that there is hope and joy.
- Check my calendar. Pick some events I’d be willing to go to alone and enjoy. Reach out to 4 different friends to try to make plans in the next week or so. Block out social time in my calendar and protect it as though it is for doctor’s appointments and airline flights. Pick out an outfit for the first social event.
Step 3: Action Plan
a. Schedule the necessary actions you’ve selected.
b. Ask your family and friends to help support you.
c. Write a one-sentence affirmation to support yourself and put it somewhere you’ll read it often.
- I commit to and will book 20 minutes TODAY to taking the first steps: set my timer, email Lindsay, Roger, Kerri and Mai, block out time on my calendar.
- Tell people in my network about my commitments (to spend less time on Facebook and go to some social event this week) and ask for their support and suggestions. Group text might be good. Ask people around me to refrain from discussing the election or its aftermath in my presence and stop tagging me for a while.
- My affirmation about why this is good for me is, “Restoring myself will give me the resilience to help others.”
Understanding your election reaction and restoring your resilience are the FIRST steps to helping reduce your suffering and get back to yourself. Yes, you should also refocus, reframe, re-evaluate, recommit … all the other “RE’s”. But you’ll need ENERGY for that and so first things first. Restore yourself now! Continued depletion from Trump Trauma will result in burnout from political exhaustion and that won’t help you or anyone else.
Recovering your resilience is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your family and your country this week.
Let me know what actions you take to overcome #TrumpTrauma in the comments, or you can send me a DM on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn.