April 01, 2017

A great way to increase emotional resilience

Welcome! It's a long game and the resistance needs all of you.

Here to help you stay energized and sane because we're in it for the duration.
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R3 for week 10 ending March 31, 2017

Revel (something celebratory from the past week :: to maintain a sense of accomplishment and gratitude)

Although these ten weeks may have made us feel like we have whiplash, notice that our Resistance is keeping the Administration in just as much tension. This movement has not let up for one second since the Inauguration. Yes, we've been in reactive mode (Reflected on that a few emails back) and our actions have had to be disruptive, which can be difficult to sustain, but look at what we continue to achieve. And now observe the growing instability of the opposition. We will be setting the course again. For now, we still #resist.

“As I think about the outpouring of activism we’re seeing, despite all the noise and the nonsense, four words keep coming back to me: resist, insist, persist, enlist.”--Hillary Clinton


Climate denial: we have the momentum and so begins the pushback from government and business.


No Muslim ban ever: Judge cites "religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext." And more pushback.


Local action is critical to countering 45's destruction. Stay involved close to home and vote in every election. It is not too early to plan for 2018. And setup another round of town halls - Recess is Coming!


Russiagate is bad enough for both parties to act.


Reflect (something big picture to ponder :: to keep our eyes on the prize and remember why we resist)

45 lost big on healthcare, much to his chagrin. The narcissist-in-chief must desperately want to accomplish something showy after this second major failure. What is the Administration’s next bit of strategy? 45 mentioned gearing up for tax reform, but then suggested infrastructure might be next. We are starting to see the Party push back on various fronts, including delaying consideration of spending for The Wall until later in the year. In fact budget and financing will need attention, given the government’s fiscal deadlines. All of these involve Congress, and thus none offer 45 a clear path to a victory.

Having found Congress to be not so easily manipulated, will 45 will turn to a misguided show of military power? The extent of a President’s military leeway has been debated continuously for years. With this Administration holding itself above rules, it seems reasonable to assume 45 will go beyond any perceived limits to his military powers in an attempt to achieve some vague campaign promise.

Senator Chris Murphy of CT reminded us this week of goings on in Syria, where US troop presence is growing. 45 has ordered increases without any notification or explanation, and thus his plan for Syria, if there is one, is unknown. Murphy rightly warns of a repeat of the mistake-filled legacy of the Iraq War. And currently in Iraq civilian deaths, many of them children, continue to mount. 45 has now refused to provide detailed troop information about either place.

Alongside 45’s enormous requested increase to military spending, secretive troop movements should raise an alarm. Journalists and experts have previously suggested that a terrorist event on home soil could be twisted by this Administration to exert severe autocratic powers, particularly over the judiciary. Despite repeatedly riling Muslims (to the delight of the Islamic State) this has not happened.

Would 45 turn to waging war elsewhere? Another rationale befitting this Administration: the military industrial complex, and it’s many wealthy investors, will clearly benefit from increased military spending.

"War has dug itself into economic systems, where it offers a livelihood to millions, rather than to just a handful of craftsmen and professional soldiers.” --Barbara Ehrenreich

Keep this topic on your watchlist.


Recharge (a technique to help you energize and focus for the week ahead :: "self care" and creative resistance

Your replies last week suggested that we are all sometimes fatigued by this situation. Finding time for Resistance work is challenging, and we struggle with its indefiniteness. Balance is what many of us seek. We are trying to balance this tiring work with self-care; angry defiant resistance with restorative joy and gratitude; and, quoting a reader, "being radically plugged in with radical unplugging." Feeling the support of others at rallies, constituent meetings and work groups can be reinvigorating. Finding ways to recharge and channel excess emotional energy is important in achieving that personal balance.

Another tool for the arsenal is keeping a journal. Journaling can become a core ritual habit that refines thinking and strengthens focus, as it increases overall well-being. Writing about our lives and thoughts and feelings allows us to affirm who we are and find universal similarities between ourselves and others. In journaling we tell our personal narratives, our own story. Dan Pink named Story one of six essential competencies for our age, and there is definitely power in stories.

We are our stories. We compress years of experience, thought, and emotion into a few compact narratives that we convey to others and tell ourselves.” --Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind

But journaling does much more than document our stories. The process of self-examination helps us to better understand ourselves, which makes us stronger. While the left side of the brain is busy writing, the right is free to ponder and discover things for the left to, in turn, write about. It is another form of meditation.

“Journaling, I believe, is a practice that teaches us better than any other the elusive art of solitude — how to be present with our own selves, bear witness to our experience, and fully inhabit our inner lives.” --Maria Popova, Brainpickings

People of all walks throughout history have kept journals, having discovered that writing helps us to process events and our reactions to and feelings about them so that we can make meaning for ourselves.

“There’s nothing like actually writing something out to clarify thinking.” --Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Simple, regular freeform writing is being shown in studies around the world to have many benefits:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves mood and physical well-being
  • Sparks creativity
  • Organizes thoughts
  • Releases emotions
  • Strengthens learning
  • Clarifies intentions and goals
  • Enhances self-image
  • Empowers action
  • Improves writing skills

How to Begin

There are no rules but it does take repetition, so devise a method over time that fits your needs and preferences. You might ritualize journaling to help make it become a sure habit. 

- Set aside at least 10-20 minutes a few times a week

- Begin with a few minutes of quiet thought before writing

- Listen to music if you like, to help tap into your creative mind

- Digital or paper - use a google doc titled with the date, an email to yourself, an app (Day One for Mac, Journey for Android, Evernote, even Notes), or a paper notebook and pen

- Write quickly and don’t worry about punctuation or grammar

- It’s okay to write lists or sentence fragments

- It’s also okay to draw or doodle your journal entries

When to write
This is again up to you. Writing in the morning can be part of a routine of meditation, responding to the previous day, or preparing for the day ahead. Write what comes to mind upon waking - the subconscious has been at work overnight.

Writing in the evening after the workday can be a way to process things learned and experienced that day, to run through goals met and outstanding, to review tasks ahead.

Writing before going to sleep can be part of a meditation on things you hope to accomplish. Set the subconscious mind an overnight challenge to work on as you sleep (and write about what thoughts and resolutions you wake with).

What to
A History
Perhaps the simplest way to begin: write about the events of your life - as a diary or history. Over time recording events that had caused anxiety beforehand and yet actually occurred without issue may increase your confidence. Those times your fears were realized, write about how you might grow from the experience, and plan a way forward from to your desired ending.

By essentially creating a story about your own life, you become an observer with a rational external perspective, more readily able to gain insight to yourself. Your thinking may thus shift in a positive direction. To force this a little, write about things from someone else’s perspective entirely.

Write about something you felt grateful for. Writing about gratitude has been shown to shift mindset in a positive direction. Describing people and unexpected events, as opposed to material things, seems to increase the benefits. Rather than writing a list, delve deeply into a few things you are grateful for to extend the well-being effect.

Expressive Writing
Write about your emotions and try to understand them. Describe something that happened, a general feeling or concern, or a specific problem you are facing. Write not only about what you experienced or thought but also why you think you felt that way. Working through feelings leads to most of the benefits of journaling, especially emotional resilience. Often insight comes when you are at some emotional remove, after the fact or from an outside perspective. Untangling emotions and thoughts about an event or problem from the thing itself can help you discover why you feel stress, for example. It is often not the event but some feelings you've attached to it. Figuring this out can provide relief.

Try to end with something empowering derived from thinking critically about your subject. Answer questions you would ask someone else expressing this concern. Write about how you might change the situation in your favor or about the next step you might take to move forward. Write about your relevant strengths or brainstorm possible solutions. Seeing options available to you should leave you with positivity.

Write about whatever comes to your open mind. Examine why it came to mind, why it interests you, what about it inspires or fascinates you.

Write down the thoughts that are relentlessly occupying your mind - from upcoming work to things you need to add to the shopping list. This can be curative. It opens mind space for pondering and reflection, so important to achieving mental clarity. Removing the clutter, setting it down on paper, may help you avoid becoming overwhelmed by the perceived need to hold too many thoughts at once. Write about what you think prevents you from being able to focus, or about things that keep you from burnout and how you can bring more of them into your day-to-day.

A Theme
Write about change, anger, ambiguity, fear, a person in your life, your deepest values.

An image
Write about what you see and feel while looking at an image.

Use any of these as entry points, and then see where the process takes you. Journaling is an amazing habit to develop. As always, your thoughts welcomed.


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