It is not uncommon for us, as human beings, to want to build walls and create rules when we encounter uncomfortable circumstances.
The more predictable and familiar our environment, the safer and more comfortable we feel – even if our environment is not ideal. When that predictability and familiarity are gone, we become afraid, reactive, rigid and protective – looking to scapegoat and build walls and controls. We do so whether our fears and blame are founded or not. As our fears increase, we become ineffective and literally lose touch of our senses and the ability to reason.
It seems to me, that as a nation we are in a very reactive mode. This is born out with indicators that measure our collective physical, emotional, social and mental health. Depression and anxiety rates, as well as their associated physical health problems, are at historically high levels. These dis-eases make us susceptible to fear-based messaging, and to being reactive.
Politically, this is translating into wild swings between the parties and people we select for each election cycle, our rapidly shifting prioritization of issues, a rising tendency towards scapegoating, and the piles of legislation, government-based programs and policies that we generate and constantly change.
In my estimation, today’s strongest example of this scapegoating and reactive mentality is bearing fruit around the rallying cry for a border wall with Mexico.
Because we are so stressed and activated and fearful, we are unable to rationally look at the facts. The facts are that we cannot blame the border, and the people crossing it for our ills.
Before we continue to waste our energy looking for scapegoats, we would be well-served to bring ourselves back to our literal senses. Doing so would allow us to be more clear headed and effective in methodically identifying the real issues, and tapping into all that is going well, as we take steps to remedy the ills.
This may sound strange, but it is not only our responsibility to ourselves, our families and our communities, but is our civic responsibility to reduce our stress and anxiety, so we can make sound decisions when choosing our representatives and prioritizing our policies.
Here are some suggestions that I offer for you consider, as ways of getting off the hamster wheels that create stress and anxiety in your life. They are based in the biologically respectful concept that I first heard from Dr. Bruce Perry of the Childhood Trauma Academy. The concept is summed up as the 3 Rs of Regulate, Relate and then Reason. Basically, this means that before you try to solve problems, be sure that your physical, social and emotional needs are met. This makes intuitive sense. You more likely than not have had the experience of being in a zone of creativity and effective problem solving, when you are rested, have nutritious food in your bodies, and healthy and life-giving connections to loving and supportive people.
To regulate, you can be sure to get good sleep, exercise, and time to be fully relaxed in your body. You can make a habit of breathing deeply and fully engaging all your senses.
To relate, make sure to foster your healthy relationships. The bonus of healthy relationships is that they are also regulating. If you focus on the regulate and relate, aspects of this concept you will become more serene and much sharper in your creativity, reasoning and problem solving. As a nationally renown artist told me recently, “I would not be able to do what I do without having my serenity.”
If each of us focused on regulating our nervous systems, taking care of our bodies, and forming healthy relationships, I believe as a nation we would find ways to help each other have a good life, enjoy liberty, and be able to pursue happiness without reactively building figurative and literal walls.
Jessica Dancingheart is a personal and organizational consultant. Find out more at www.openingtopossibilities.com.