Authors & Thought Leaders

Are You Suffering from Post-Traumatic Election Distress (PTED)?

Published on March 24, 2017

Article by Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick for Bodhi Tree

Based upon the level of emotional disturbance and “I’m upset because…” we’re witnessing during this unusual post-election season, we’ve been asked about our perspective regarding it all. We’ll begin with one of the Principles of Spiritual Psychology: How you relate to the issue IS the issue.

From our perspective and experience, it’s exactly during times such as these when tempers flare, political fault lines are inflamed, and you may find yourself triggered, caught in what seems a perfectly justifiable “I’m upset because,” that a Soul-Centered Living perspective is especially useful. Consider this example: Suppose you had a clear intention to not only learn to sail but also to become a sailing master. In addition to reading all about sailing and taking sailing lessons, the one thing you’d need to do is gain lots of experience sailing.

And if you truly intended to become a well-seasoned sailor, you’d need to do a lot more than simply sail smooth seas during clear, calm weather. You’d require the experience of sailing in all kinds of weather—from beautiful balmy days with gorgeous sunrises and sunsets to storms ranging from showers to minor squalls to violent thunderstorms including torrential rain, high winds, rough water and high waves. You’d learn that some thunderstorms harbor waterspouts and tornadoes. And in some waters, hurricanes are spawned.

So here you are, a somewhat seasoned sailor on your way to becoming a true sailing master when, all of a sudden, completely unpredicted, a very severe and challenging storm emerges from nowhere. How will you weather the gale? What attitude will best serve you? Would you choose to judge the storm, curse it, and express your outrage against it?

Or would you bring forward the strength of your Heart, accept the storm for what it is, fully apply and engage in your best sailing practices, and proceed to learn from the challenges the storm is providing? You might even thank the storm for providing you with an exceptional learning opportunityof course, that would probably be after you made it back to port safely. After all, the storm did provide you with an opportunity for gaining and demonstrating a greater level of mastery.

The current post-election period is rather analogous to sailing during challenging weather—in this instance, sailing during a political storm. Some people are allowing the energy of the storm to overwhelm their spiritual understanding and engulf them in a sea of “I’m upset because” emotions and ego-justified judgment. Some may feel metaphorically that their boat has been capsized. Some people’s upset is so strong that not only are they angry at the election results, they are equally angry with anyone who disagrees with them—even close family members.

“Alright,” you say, “I’d like to use the current political climate to demonstrate greater mastery. What’s the alternative?”

An excellent example of a truly constructive and peaceful approach can be found in the story of Julia Butterfly Hill. On December 10, 1997, Julia climbed up into a 180-foot-tall coast redwood in California, where she remained for more than two years in an attempt to prevent the destruction of the tree and the old-growth forest surrounding it. She was successful, and all the trees within a three-acre buffer zone were preserved.

Some activists are motivated strongly and passionately against something they perceive that’s wrong. But Julia Butterfly Hill is different. She explained:

“So often activism is based on what we are against, what we don’t like, what we don’t want. And yet we manifest what we focus on. And so we are manifesting yet ever more of what we don’t want, what we don’t like, what we want to change. So for me, activism is about a spiritual practice as a way of life. And I realized I didn’t climb the tree because I was angry at the corporations and the government; I climbed the tree because when I fell in love with the redwoods, I fell in love with the world. So it is my feeling of ‘connection’ that drives me, instead of my anger and feelings of being disconnected.”

Julia is a passionate activist, and unique because her passion had ascended to a higher level. Emerson described it this way: “Life must be lived on a higher plane. We must go up to a higher platform, to which we are always invited to ascend; there, the whole aspect of things changes.”

Imagine what would happen in our world if those who are motivated to work for change in a positive direction understood that they don’t work for something by working against its apparent opposite. If we follow Julia’s example, we come to realize that progress in social, environmental or political issues is a direct by-product of more and more people choosing the Higher Ground where Peace is found.

The greater Awakening of humanity’s collective consciousness is a by-product of the Awakening of individual consciousness—one person at a time. Individual issue resolution is one of the primary vehicles available through which we can Heal ourselves, Awaken into the Awareness of the Love that is our Essential Nature, and live in harmony with each other in that Awareness. It is at that point, and only at that point, that we can work together and cooperatively bring forward solutions based upon clear intentions that are truly for the Highest Good of all concerned.

A remarkable statement in A Course in Miracles echoes Julia Butterfly Hill: “The generation who brings peace will not be the generation who hates war but the generation who loves peace.” That enlightened statement is equally true for each of us personally. Doesn’t this make perfect sense? If you actively hate war, are you not increasing the sum total of negativity on the planet by adding your hate to that which already exists and which is what fuels the war?

On the other hand, if you are for peace, then you choose to practice the Presence of Peace. You are free to protest, you are free to march and free to join with others and seek political change. The only requirement is that you let go of againstness—you let go of “I’m upset because…” and you forgive your judgments against yourself, others, the world and God.

The way through the current storm is to transform and heal whatever disturbance and negativity resides within you. It’s by performing this Healing work that you transform your consciousness out of the war you say you’re against and into the Peace that resides beneath the war. You are then free to engage in all these activities from a place of Peace, which is another way of saying by centering yourself in your Essential Nature—Love.

It’s important that we be clear, as this is a very important subject. We’re certainly not advocating for passivity in the way you conduct your life. If you want to work for the environment, you have our support. If you want to ease the suffering of the many, we support that, too. And if you want to make your voice heard in political matters, by all means be as “active” as you choose. All we’re saying is that when you engage in those worthy endeavors, climb the tree in the Spirit that Julia did. Don’t climb from “againstness”—climb from your Love, for when you climb from “againstness,” all you succeed in doing is adding to the very thing you say you are against. And the best part is that when you climb from a place of Peace, you are so much more likely to succeed—just as Julia did.

Published on: March 24, 2017

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