A couple of weeks ago watching the crowds of women (and men) all over the world march for women’s rights brought me to tears. And then it brought me to anger. I wound up looking at many photos of smug lipped Trump while my mind visualised many a punching action.
I was about to launch into a diatribe to Bloody Good Chap about how my mind feels about Trump when I suddenly paused and realised I was doing exactly what Trump does.
RESPONDING TO FEAR WITH HATE.
Then I got tied up in a bit of frustration at all the women writing things on Facebook and picket signs like “(insert rational, intelligent commentary of Donald Trump here) + “and your stupid hair”
Name calling and judging people based on their looks is one of the things we’re fighting against.
TOO MANY POTS CALLING KETTLES BLACK.
Though so many genius signs. My favourite: “Men of quality don’t fear equality” and, near the remains of the Berlin Wall “Build bridges, not walls”.
Eventually I calmed down and tried to think about this whole ridiculous debacle from a less angry perspective.
TRUMP IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF SOMEONE WHO IS COMPLETELY IDENTIFIED WITH HIS MIND; HIS EGO.
He voices his thoughts without checking to see if they’re rational or fair, he lashes out in the heat of the moment and then denies it later. He seems to be completely unable to regulate his emotions.
But is he really that different than us? Ever reacted badly in the heat of the moment and then regretted it later? Ever said something you wish you’d never voiced? Ever had nasty, unkind thoughts?
EVER RESPONDED TO FEAR WITH HATE?
If you’ve ever felt hate, even for Trump, then the answer is yes.
It’s all very well pointing and blaming the “idiots” who voted him in, but what if we pointed a few fingers back at ourselves and checked in — how identified with our own minds are we? Do you believe most of what your mind says? Are your reactions affected by your discursive mind? Do you know how to react wisely to your strongest emotions?
Yes, the content of Donald Trump’s mind is the worst example of what the mind is capable of –
Racism, sexism, bigotry, chauvinism and hate.
All of those things come from one thing:
A lot of what Trump believes comes from the basic survival responses inherent in all of us. He’s obviously never learnt to manage them, and is therefore not a fit candidate for any position of power.
Trump behaves like an angry child, actually quite similar to a wild animal — with no ability to filter and reflect on his emotional responses before reacting. He reacts impulsively using his limbic/reptilian brain rather than pausing and responding wisely using the emotion-regulating capabilities of his prefrontal cortex.
No doubt Trump’s apparent lack of prefrontal-cortex usage is exacerbated by the fact that, as Arianna Huffington points out, Donald needs to get more sleep yo. Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase activity in the limbic brain (angry cat), as well as resulting in a loss of functional connectivity to the medial prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating emotions (wise cat).
Trump appears to be stuck in his reptilian brain, one of the least evolved parts of our brain whose main reaction to triggering stimuli (e.g. being the President) is fight, flight or freeze.
IT OFTEN REACTS TO FEAR WITH ANGER AND GOVERNS OUR REACTIONS USING OUR MOST BASIC SURVIVAL EMOTIONS.
In our tribal days we used to fear anyone different to us as a matter of survival — different tribe = threat of danger (mind = trying to keep us safe). It is said that men feared the power and intuition of women, undoubtedly their ability to unite and form communities, and so many religions sought to suppress women in order to maintain control (mind = trying to keep them safe).
Our minds themselves have not evolved all that far from our ancestors, and no one teaches us how to regulate our mind and emotions at school, so it’s no surprise that
THERE ARE A LOAD OF TRUMPS IN THE WORLD STILL RULED BY THEIR PRIMITIVE THOUGHTS.
The difference is whether we decide to take our primitive, survival based thoughts seriously, or whether we use the more intelligent, higher thinking parts of our brain to check whether those thoughts are still relevant, useful or wise.
The fact that someone who has no ability to filter his thoughts or regulate his emotions could be seen as “relatable” and voted in as president is the real issue, in my opinion.
62.9 million Americans can relate to someone who responds to fear with anger and hate. A large proportion of 65.8 million Americans + all the Trump haters worldwide have responded to fear with anger and hate.
THIS IS A PROBLEM OF EMOTIONAL REGULATION AND IDENTIFICATION WITH MIND, NOT TRUMP.
I hope that the presence of Trump on the world stage will shock us into turning the mirror on ourselves as a society and as individuals.
WE ALL NEED TO STOP POINTING AND START EXAMINING OUR OWN REACTIONS TO FEAR.
I hope that the world will continue to wake up to how important it is that we learn to regulate our mind and emotions and to teach these skills to our kids. This is how we’ll evolve.
Polarising ourselves and letting a dude called Donald bring the worst out in us is a backwards step — and it’s not his fault or the fault of anyone else. Only YOU are responsible for managing your emotions and mind in the face of adversity. Blaming Trump and riling ourselves up in anger is the easy option.
I PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT TRUMP IS HERE TO REMIND US TO TO MOVE FORWARD IN OUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND EVOLUTION.
We need to practice responding to our fear by trying to understand each other, asking ourselves what’s going on in the lives and minds of those who disagree with our views, and seeing if we can move past this primitive reptilian response.
IF WE CAN’T, WE’LL SLIDE BACKWARDS TO TRUMP’S LEVEL OF EMOTIONAL IMMATURITY.
We need to learn to train our attention and strengthen the parts of our brain that can regulate our emotions and respond with empathy; our prefrontal cortex.
It’s not the easy route, but it’s the only way forward.
And someone, for the love of our sanity,
Feeling Trumpy and want a hand taming your mind? Indecisive overachiever in need of some clarity? Check out the free 6 Days to Decisiveness Mindfulness challenge for practical people here, read more radically honest posts like this on projectself.com.au and join our 9000+ followers on Facebook.
Originally published at projectself.com.au on January 24, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com