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Taking Care of Your Mental Health Amidst Political Turmoil

Politics goes beyond being "right", we have to understand what is at the root of our fighting.

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Image borrowed from ABC news.
Image borrowed from ABC news.

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Most people are so on edge when it comes to politics, that bringing it up amongst a group of people with undisclosed political affiliations has become a socially understood “no-no.” But even as the social rules of discussing and sharing political views are shifting, the psychological and spiritual impacts of how we relate to and explore the political spectrum are even more difficult, as we navigate them without the reinforcement or denouncing guidance from others.

Activists have been fighting for social change for years, acting as martyrs for the greater cause, condemning others for their so called lack of anger at the injustices of this world. With the outburst of social media, more people now than ever have taken on this role. We now find ourselves in a call-out culture where both sides of the political aisle are just searching for reasons to fight with one another, condemning and putting someone else down- not for the purpose of real social change, but rather to feel morally superior in the moment and to quell the unresolved guilt of privilege they may have, or even spew hate to someone because of their own unresolved trauma. But it’s interesting to see that the most effective social movements all stemmed from principles of nonviolence, love, and equality. Next time you feel that high after getting in the last word in a twitter fight, remember you may have won the battle, but the only way to truly win is if both sides put down their weapons. The purpose of our activism is not to keep us fighting, but to set us free.

Often times, this attacking style of rhetoric isn’t changing anyone’s minds, it’s just allowing the hateful energy to course through you, and is actually putting stress on your own body and mental health. Constantly being upset and outraged is a sure path to burnout. When approaching political action, or when formulating beliefs, rather from doing it from a place of fighting someone or some group, instead come from a conscious place of understanding. You are not your party. You are not your opinions. You are not your beliefs. You are not your thoughts. What lies beneath the thoughts you have is that universal consciousness and truth that we are all one, that we all just want to be loved and avoid suffering. By sending out hate, you are just attracting more resistance to your true message, your true belief, which boils down to the message that you just want to be seen, heard, and respected, and you want the same for others.

Before we take any action that is intended to be effective, we must first recognize and accept the suffering and injustice in ourselves and in the society. We are not being passive by accepting that these negative feelings are there, but rather we are beginning to approach the issue not from the ego, but from the heart. Carl Jung has previously said “Perhaps I myself am the enemy who must be loved.” This world is meant to evolve, and seeing these times as a difficult, but vital step in the process towards change can make the overall process of activism much more effective and come from a place of acceptance and transformation rather than repression or annihilation. Honoring pain and loving that pain allows those who are hurting to be seen, and to begin to heal.

It’s much easier for the ego to focus on a problem that we perceive to be “outside” of ourselves, to be separate. One that impacts us, and we can complain about, but not something that we are actively apart of creating, in every thought, belief, action, and the energy that is making up our own being. The work is in breaking down the paradigm that we are all separate beings, competing for our well-being and survival, and that we must control the outcome to ensure our own individual needs, rather than thinking as the collective we are a part of. We must change the awareness from an I, me, my perspective to a broader field of consciousness where we accept gifts from the universe. We are open to whatever may arise and to not come to a situation with our own biases and narration.

This is not meant to bypass all the hate that others are sending out in the world, but the only person we truly have control over is ourselves, and by protecting our own energy and hearts from all the hate, we are allowing ourselves and nurturing the ability in us to respond to such hate with grace and the transformative power of compassion. The issues that we deal with in politics are so loaded because they tap into our morals, but I would suggest it’s something deeper than morals. Morals are a sign of a place and a time. Consciousness is not a choice, it is the underlying nature of eternal love and light that is you. You are the moment, you are the experience, and you are everything within the moment, because it is within your consciousness.

Our current state has us in a “thinking” crisis, whereby we are so focused on thinking our way out of something and gaming a system, that we disconnect from how we are really connected as beings, and disconnected from the values we hold ourselves to. If political leaders could connect to the heart, and take a break from the “thinking” mind for even a fraction of their time, our world would have a lot less suffering.

People are not evil; people are unconscious. A behavior may be bad, and it may cause deep harm, but it is coming from a deeply wounded and delusional worldview. We are all experiencing this world through a level of deep conditioning and habit that is not our fault. But, it is our responsibility to become aware of that conditioning and to unlearn the deep rooted and dysfunctional habits that are born out of the sense of separate, ego driven, survival-mode self, and to begin to practice a new level of consciousness where we are the awareness and space of unconditional love for people to awaken to their true nature. True transformation starts from within.

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More Thrive on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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