Mona Gustafson Affinito, Ph.D., L.P.

Psychologist; Professor, Author; Practicing Therapist

View my blog at http://monagustafsonaffinito.com
Email me at forgivenessoptions@earthlink.net

What's on my mind?

REDUCING ELECTION STRESS: LESSONS FROM PSYCHOTHERAPY

I, along with almost everyone I know, was horrified by the campaign rhetoric of fear, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and hate. I physically feel the pain caused by world-wide cruelty, and fight despair over the violent hostility that’s emerged in my own United States. Yes, I was shocked at Trump’s election.

But long experience with psychology helps me see the positives in today’s turmoil. It’s all about The Shadow.

During psychotherapy, the movement to good health begins with the emergence of our Shadow side, that hidden cauldron of hatred, fear, anger, hostility, hurt, desire for vengeance, or maybe even fear of some of our own good but challenging qualities. Its forces cannot be integrated in healing ways as long as they secretly and energetically chew away at our inner selves,

So, what does that have to do with the situation now that Trump has been elected? Let’s be clear, the campaign didn’t cause the racism, sexism, xenophobia, rage, and violence, i.e. the Collective Shadow. It helped unleash it. And as a therapist I can see that as a good thing.

Good thing? Yes. When all those Collective Shadow toxins are operating outside our awareness they cause their damage without control. Now they’ve been released. It’s awful to see the monster side of our humanity being displayed, but we know what we are dealing with and we can get to work healing our country. Processing it won’t be a matter of short-term therapy. The work of change will be long and terribly painful. But as individuals we can reduce our own stress and strive toward solutions.

How? By focusing on the present and action for the future. By taking whatever personal control is most appropriate for each of us. No one of us can solve everything, but we can avoid despair (lack of hope). The lesson from successful therapy is to choose a few things on which to focus and take action based on our own capabilities. Keep informed; maybe join protest marches if that’s our thing, or perhaps subsidize others; sign petitions; donate money; write letters; make phone calls; discuss with friends and neighbors; perhaps just meditate or pray. Do something to prevent, promote, or protect the issues that concern us.

Remember, the Shadow gets hidden because all that’s good in us doesn’t want to see it. And that “good” side is pretty darn powerful. Right now the Shadow side is making a scene, but its counterforce is quietly and powerfully active.

There are more good psychology lessons to be shared as we enter this historic period. Today’s theme is The Shadow, and taking personal control.

Forgiveness

runs through this web site, from helpful tools, to therapy, to fiction

Purpose: to carry on a conversation with you about the process of forgiveness, how it plays out in therapy, and how it influences the content of my fiction.

At times on the inside pages you'll find issues for discussion, including the option to present your own, like

  • Forgive and Forget: the fallacy
    • Please go to the Forgiveness page to see and respond to my take on this
  • The purpose and practice of punishment: three factors
  • Confusing vengeance with punishment: the dangers
  • Quick and Easy Forgiveness: the hazards
  • Guilt: appropriate and inappropriate
  • Shame: the growth and creativity inhibitor
  • Reconciliation and forgiveness: not necessarily linked
  • Forgiveness and Religion: destructive or helpful
  • Forgiveness: it’s place in the process of psychotherapy
  • Impediments to Forgiveness: myths and realities
  • The biblical book of Job: the positions of forgiveness
  • Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses: finding the forgiveness theme