In the days since self-proclaimed patriots terrorized our capitol, I have been experiencing a feeling of despair that I cannot really get my head around. It is a mixture of deep sadness and anger at what is happening in our country. Every time I think we have hit bottom in our levels of tension, hate and animosity, we seem to sink deeper.


My natural instinct is to try and feel better about what has happened. There are a lot of ways I do this.


I remind myself that the extremists do not represent our country as a whole. There are people who believe as they do but would never take the actions they took. More importantly, there are people who believe in tolerance and acceptance. I do not want to filter out the positive people because of the negative. Challenging this distortion in thinking is typically very useful in regulating my emotions. Yet, not right now.


As I feel angry and personally hurt that so many people have supported a man who has brought our country to such morally dark times, I try to feel better by finding ways to validate their position. I sincerely believe that validation of another’s perspective fosters connection between people.


I can validate that people who initially supported some of what Trump stood for were swayed to look the other way at his faults because of his perceived political strengths. Frankly, we have all looked the other way on faults when we felt what someone had to offer was so important. I may not agree, but I can make sense of it.


Yet validation and trying to make sense of others’ thought process does not make me feel better in this situation. In fact, I feel very willful about not wanting to validate it.


I have tried processing the events with like-minded friends and family. My hope was that feeling validated myself would ease my own emotions. In contrast, it seems to only intensify them.


This morning I did my typical scroll through the news with coffee. From there I typically get on with some form of productivity. Today, I didn’t. I just sat.


While sitting I realized that my emotions over world events aren’t going to be eased or fixed right now. In fact, I don’t even think I want them to be. As much as I dislike feeling like this, I think it is an appropriate reaction. I don’t want to feel okay with what is happening in our country.


This is a concept I have spoken about many times with clients. Our emotional responses can be uncomfortable. Yet, that discomfort sometimes needs to be tolerated rather than “solved.”


A key example of this is the experience of mourning. When we mourn a loss, we feel awful and we want to feel better. Yet, there is not a quick fix. We certainly don’t want to feel happy in the face of loss even if we don’t want to feel sad. We also don’t want to disrespect the loss by not experiencing the sadness.


That is where I am right now. There are some skills I could use to feel better, but as unpleasant as it is, I want to sit with my feelings.



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