As we bear witness to the tumult and disruption following the elections South of the border I am struck by the activation of stress-response systems in clients, friends, family and just about everyone I run into. Many people feel unsettled and anxious, angry, hopeless, and scared. Addictions amp up, tempers flare, despair seeps in. There is an atmosphere of low grade, underlying panic.
As animals, over millions of years, our nervous systems have developed protective responses which keep us safe in the face of threat. Fight, flight and freeze patterns kick in when we feel threatened, regardless of whether a threat is imminent or not. Stress hormones are helpful when we need to run to safety, to fight off or hide from an attacker, but chronic activation of our stress response systems leads to all kinds of health challenges, disrupting digestion, sleep, respiration, cognition and behaviour.
The election of Trump represents very real threats to many of those who are not male, white, Christian and heterosexual. It is also a traumatic blow to those who have dedicated their lives to working for equality and reconciliation, and those who seek justice for human and non-human kin while protecting the health of our planet.
Looking for hope I am inspired by the words of my friend, visionary and Somatic Experiencing™ colleague, Sage Hayes (http://embodiedliberation.com/), who writes:
“I have always believed that deep human evolution in this time is about simultaneously building our capacity to process the triggers of inescapable fear and trauma in our bodies while being able to remain boldly connected in our hearts, to ourselves and each other. We are 100 million years of being wired to run, kill or be paralyzed with fear. So this is it, a collective grand test of a lifetime – and in this we will be messy and we will fight and we will run and we will freeze…And maybe we will love.”
Sage Hayes (2016) In the Face of Fear Is Love Possible? was first posted on Facebook and can be found at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-the-wild-things-are/201611/in-the-face-fear-is-love-possible
Hope lies in in the possibility of transformation and deepening connection, through the cultivation of embodied consciousness – “boldly connected in our hearts, to ourselves and each other.”