This article is a follow up to one posted about six months ago acknowledging the anger that seems to be emanating from so many people based on political points of view. In some cases, it validates the rage that they may be feeling, but upon further reflection and inspection, it has been found that some of the emotional reactions are inflated by external sources (TV, social media, etc.). This has led to unnecessary stress.
I admit that this paragraph is a bit more of an editorial, but it does tie into the psychological issues that many of us are experiencing. It seems that the angrier society gets, the more money changes hands within the different media outlets. The angrier society gets, the more posts show up on Facebook or Twitter. The angrier society gets, the more the ratings increase on the “News” channels. The angrier society gets, the more money gets donated to different causes. So, these groups have an incentive to keep society angry.
The problem extends to the belief that everyone’s identity is tied to who they voted for in the last election. Does this really define you? Does everything that a news network or social media outlet tells you to believe, mean that you have to believe it? On paper, the answer is “no”. But, take a look at how you have been thinking and acting, and honestly determine if you have defined your own beliefs or if others have defined them for you.
In my practice, this has actually come up quite a bit as politics and mental health continue to be intertwined. Fortunately, the intervention of helping others to define their own belief system and not allowing outside forces to determine it, has allowed an increase in my clients becoming more at peace. It has given them a sense of control during a time when so many things feel out of control. It also allows them to open their minds up to alternate points of view as they are no longer “forced” to defend their beliefs. They can simply listen and make their own, newly-empowered decisions.
Sometimes, we feel as if we cannot stop or control how we feel about what is “going on”. To be honest, this is valid and understandable. However, when this happens, we must admit to ourselves that we may have given up our internal control to things external to ourselves. If this is you, please reach out for help. This has become a common theme within our counseling practices and a change in perspective has helped a lot of our clients.
Whatever your political point of view, it is OK to acknowledge that other beliefs may work in various situations as well. It is OK to look at and process your opinions and do a thorough examination of them to determine if they still fit. It is OK to be angry and also OK to figure out ways to regain some of the control that you may have lost and lessen that anger. You have to be your own advocate because at the end of the day, YOUR opinion is what matters most.
Michael J. Pollak, PCC, LICDC
Director, Dual Diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Program