Is the News Making You Worried, Anxious, and Hopeless?

 worried about the news in West Los Angeles

How Do You Feel About the Values of Our Leaders?

As someone who does values-based therapy, I have seen how helping a client clarify their values, and then live each day according to those same values, can transform a life. I see my clients go from self-rejecting to self-affirming; from overwhelmed to joyful!

Then I read the news.

The current political climate has lead to an increased sense of hopelessness and despair for many of my friends, family, and clients. I see political views blocking longstanding friendships and family ties. The recent shenanigans over the nomination for SCOTUS has brought the point home again. And now it’s a seriously long-term problem, not just one we can hope to reconcile in the next election or two.

I fear deeply for our values. Honesty. Integrity. Empathy. Safety. Is it too late?

As a therapist I am familiar with the concept of learned helplessness. Here’s a story to explain:

 cute frog in west LA

A little frog is hopping around the forest and he comes to a large pot of cool water. “Oh, I love the water,” says the frog. “I’m going to jump in and cool off on this hot day.” Unfortunately for the frog, this plays right into the hands of a hungry young man who had just filled his cookpot to cook his dinner. Upon returning from gathering some firewood, the young man sees the frog already in the pot and is thrilled with his good luck. He quickly builds the fire and the water in the pot begins to heat up. The frog feels the water getting warmer, but it is not really that warm, and he is comfortable where he is. It’s getting colder outside now, and it’s not so bad to be warm in the pot. The water gets warmer, but it happens so slowly that the frog doesn’t really realize the danger he is in until it is too late to hop out. The young man ends up with a tasty meal and the frog is history.

Are we the frog?

That is to say, are we helpless in the face of all these blatant denials of obvious debauchery? Must we throw up our hands and give up as our country is lead by those who do not share our values? Is there anything we can do besides complain and worry?

Well, there is the obvious answer of becoming involved with politics, and trying to promote the leadership that reflects your own values and opinions.

But I believe there is another way, a way that we can begin to implement immediately in our lives as we already live them. It’s about values. We have to be very, very clear on our values.

What do you stand for?

If you value honesty, look for ways you can practice honesty in your daily life. Can you do it even when it is difficult to be open about your actions, because you regret them, or are even ashamed of them?

If you value authenticity, look for ways you can stand up for who you are even when it feels threatening to your ego. Can you apologize with sincerity when you mess up? Here’s an article about how to apologize honorably.

If you value empathy, can you listen to the opinions and feelings of your fellow man, even when you disagree with them? Can you learn to listen merely to understand, rather than to argue?

Should therapists remain neutral?

As therapists we are often told to remain a-political. Don’t express your views or your values; you might turn away potential clients. If you do, you won’t be able to help as many people. (and you might make less money!)

I call B.S.

I am known among my clients (and by pretty much everyone who knows me) for my straightforward manner. As a therapist, I will call you on your BS. As a human, I will be humble and respectful if you call me on mine (and I have plenty, I know!).

I stand for authenticity and empathy above all else. I am who I am and I won’t apologize for that, though I will absolutely apologize if I think I have been offensive to you. I am appalled by the recent tolerance for dishonesty, misogyny, brutish behavior, and general buffoonery.

I believe in being tolerant and inclusive. I know that as a privileged, white, cis-gendered woman there is a lot I don’t understand. I am open to learning. I am anxious to learn.

 Super therapist in West LA

When I say I offer values-based therapy I refer to your values, not mine. I will help you clarify your values and re-align your life to reflect those values. I use my therapy superpowers to determine why you are stuck and how to overcome those stuck places so you can move forward and find your joy.

When you look for a therapist, you are looking for someone you can trust with your deepest, scariest feelings and thoughts. You need to know that person is safe. You will want to know who that person is, what they stand for. You should be able to ask.

Okay, enough of the polemic. Do you have any suggestions?

Why, funny you should ask.

Here are some concrete ideas for things you can do to reduce your anxiety now and for the coming election period:

1. Sleep.

Okay, if you have ever read any of my blog posts you know that I keep harping on this point. It’s just that important. Without a decent night’s sleep your chances of being able to manage your emotions will plummet. Give yourself a good running start and get those Z’s!

2. Practice apologizing.

We all screw up, so we all need this skill. There’s actually a lot more to it than you might imagine! If you have the time, read Harriet Lerner’s excellent book, Why Won’t You Apologize? If you have just a few minutes, read my summary here.

 volunteering in an animal shelter in West Los Angeles

3. Volunteer.

Volunteering is a win-win. You make the world a better place. And there’s a bonus–research shows that volunteering makes you happier and less stressed. Whoa. If you can volunteer for something involving animals or nature you will get even more benefits. Be creative.

4. Be Kind.

If you are too busy to volunteer, too stressed-out to sleep much, have nothing to apologize for (currently), you can still make a difference. Spread kindness. Don’t flip off that guy who cuts in front of you from the carpool lane, ask the person at the post office how their day is going, take the time to listen to someone with a different opinion. Never underestimate the value of kindness. It’s our greatest weapon.

Would You Like More Help?

Does all this resonate for you? Would you like some help negotiating the whirlwind of feelings that is keeping you from being who you want to be? Give me a call or shoot me an email and we will set up your free consultation. We can meet either on the phone, or in my office if you prefer to meet me face to face. Let’s chat and see how I can be of help with your specific issues.

 If it’s 2am and you want to get this done right now, I’m gonna make this easy! Click the button below to go directly to my online calendar to schedule your free consultation!