Writing this article Wednesday morning after the Tuesday mid-term elections, I wonder if I am the only person with a headache? My brain is saturated. Thank goodness the election is over.
I wonder how mental wellness in families, communities, and our country is affected by all the discord and division. I also wonder, why? Why do we do what we do?
Yesterday, at a casino, I put $20 in a poker machine. Boom, gone. Why did I do that? Was it fun? It was. Was it profitable? No. Did my money go toward a higher good? No. Could I have used the $20 for something more useful? Yes. When I left the machine, did I like myself better than when I sat down? No. Will I likely play the poker machine again? Probably.
Maybe the process of politics is similar. Maybe doing stupid stuff is fun. Perhaps the hope of winning is the driving force, we don’t care about a higher good, or we thrive on the rush of adrenaline. Does the ordeal help us forget about the drudgery of routine responsibilities?
I don’t have the answers. I do know our overall mental health is negatively affected when bombarded for days, weeks, and months with yelling, putdowns, name calling, and general idiocy. Imagine playing the poker machine for months. Same story. We can handle temporary, but anything persistent and unavoidable is damaging to our thoughts and our balance; both are essential skills for mental wellness.
Transfer the information to children who live in violent, turbulent homes. It affects them, often for life. Like a wound that won’t heal, our thoughts get stuck on the fear and the power down authority. Broad, healthy perspectives are pushed aside for basic survival.
The Academy Award-winning song, “The Morning After,” has lyrics that give us some direction for regrouping now the political brainwashing has subsided. I’m only sharing a few lines relevant to hope.
“Why don’t we cross the bridge together
And find a place that’s safe and warm?
…It’s not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time
…Oh, can’t you see the morning after?
It’s waiting right outside the storm …”
There is hope for the morning after, and the next morning after. Thank goodness, we get a reprieve from politics and an opportunity for rest.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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