I have been pretty calm throughout the Trump presidency and find myself encouraging people to keep the faith while not stressing from the constant barrage of his unbelievable evil acts. This morning I found Robert Reich's blog post "A Summer Survival Guide" in my feed. It inspired me to be introspective and reveal my own.
My blood pressure has gone down inversely to my disgust for Trump, so I think that means my survival guide must be working. So I am sticking with it.
Trump Survival Guide
Here are the ten items that Robert Reich lists in his survival guide. I agree with most, but not all of them. So let's start there. Reich says,
- Take a day off from the news, one day a week.
- Don’t get into an argument with a Trump supporter.
- Pay no attention to Trump’s tweets.
- Watch an old movie of biting political satire
- Don’t watch “Doctor Strangelove
- Join an Indivisible group
- Drink lots of water and get plenty of exercises
- Read good books of fiction
- Go to a county fair with your kid
- Have a cookout with your neighbors
If I don't listen to the news or read the news several times a day, I get anxious. In a time when we have a dangerous president, I think we need to be in the know on more than a daily basis, to make sure we adjust, engage, or activate when necessary. At a time when information moves fast, there may be a time when quick action is needed.
For the same reason, I do pay attention to Trump's tweets. I find that most are so ridiculous, it provides comic relief and in so doing reduces my stress.
While I agree that one should not get into an argument with Trump supporters, it is useless. I do have a lot of civil discussions with them, however. It turns out that many of them, the ones not in the racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, or misogynistic modal, can have productive discussions where minds meet, and even perceptions change. One can figure out if a conversation can be productive in the first few seconds and sign off before anger and stress sets in, but a productive conversation whether one changes one's mind completely can be euphoric.
After all, total agreement is never the goal. More importantly is positive coexistence. My wife and I have diametrically opposing views on religion. In fact, she is a deacon in a Progressive Christian Church and I am a Humanist. And guess what? We have coexisted "peacefully" for decades.
I agree with all the other points, especially the one to join an Indivisible group. There are now thousands of them throughout the country. Why is that a stress reliever? Nothing reduces stress more than being empowered and knowing that you are in control and can make a difference. Indivisible groups around the country are making a difference and will do so in the 2017 Virginia election and the 2018 midterms. I am a member of Invisible Houston and Indivisible TX-02. and I can say categorically that these groups are empowering.
Exercising serves a dual purpose. I have always exercised, but have been more methodical in the Trump era. Instead of driving the 2.65 miles to Starbucks to blog every day, I walk three of those days. The other two days I spin hard to relieve any lingering stress. So far it has been good for a 20-pound loss.
Here is an important stress reliever that is necessary in these times of Trump. This one will take some work but haven reached that point myself, I know it is doable. Remember words are just vibrating air. We choose which ones we want to accept. We determine which ones will affect us or the ones we will act on when heard. We also must understand self and must be self-defined. No one can define who you are.
Trump and his ilks know that most of us are still affected by vibrating air, words. If we internalize the concept that words are in fact just air in cyclic motion which has no meaning until we give it meaning, then the verbal abuse, the vulgar words, the name calling will have no effect on us. And if it does not affect you, it cannot stress you out.
I am a black man. I can categorically say that all the N-words and other racially derogatory names I get called in emails, on phone calls, or elsewhere, mostly because of my blog posts, have no effect on me. In fact, it has now turned into a particular type of compassion. I feel that those resorting to those tactics must be so damaged and hurt on the inside. Not knowing me, what would cause that anger and hate? Sometimes I even want to help them. I remember once responding to one of these emails. The respondent was shocked to receive the email. He later apologized and said he was a changed person. What shocked him most is I told him those words meant nothing to me but I wanted to know if there was something he needed help to get over his angst for someone who has absolutely no impact on him.
The moral of my survival guide is simple. Understand that you cannot let those who have no power over you stress you out. And unite with others to fight those who do have power over you. And this can all be done stress-free by centering on knowing that you define self.
Also published on Medium.