5 Steps to Survive Extremes of Political Discourse

5 Steps to Survive Extremes of Political Discourse

Some might wonder why a psychiatrist would dare to comment on the current political climate and the unhealthy dialogue that is going on. The reality is that most people, including the patients that I have privilege to serve, are effected directly or indirectly by this climate. Many express a pervasive sense of unease, hopelessness, anxiety, fear, and lack of trust. My purpose here is not to delve into root causes of our current political problems, but rather to give some hints of some psychological tactics that I have found useful in alleviating my own uncomfortable feelings. Since personal care tactics such as mindfulness, meditation, prayer, exercise, psychotherapy, and limiting exposure to social media and news outlets have been extensively talked about elsewhere I will not bring these up. So here are my suggestions:

1. Expand your perspective, and remind yourself of the smallness of our planet and the evolutionary nature of our collective humanity. Take the positive attitude that we are passing through a sort of collective adolescence of the entire human race. We are testing extremes and once we touch the darkest corners of our collective psyche with its manifestations of hatred, prejudice, cruelty, injustice etc. we will emerge on the other side with an expansive understanding of justice, tolerance, unity and higher purpose.

2. When people want to engage you in partisan hate-based political discourse, remind them that we are all striving to be patriots.  Patriotism implies the love of one’s country and dutifulness to serve it, as opposed to blind nationalism, which could be defined by exalting one country to the detriment of others.

3. Apply proper empathic stance and techniques to see the world (even briefly) from another's perspective. This does not mean that you have to adopt everyone else’s point of view, but it is a good exercise to practice putting yourself in someone else’s mind temporarily.

4.Replace an attitude of being judgemental with curiosity and inquisitiveness. That’s a good position in many endeavors that require interaction with others.

5. Seeing humor and laughing in the face of tragedy have always been great tools to us as humans as we pass through and adjust to difficult times. Bring levity to the situations submerged in heaviness or harshness.

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