Wisdom Workout


Chaotic Times

By Susan McNeal Velasquez
By Susan McNeal Velasquez

There is nothing antiseptic or impersonal about politics. Each party is all about bipolar chaos. This transfers down to a societal climate of trying to make life appear normal even though the internal emotional experience for most of us is likely to feel crazy.

Reactions to our political climate abound. Scratch the surface and everyone has an opinion. Conversations about the rightness or wrongness of the candidates can be entered into and then explode like the marriage between dynamite and a match with disgust, harsh judgments and ugly residual feelings as the lingering payoff.

Underneath our thoughts about who and what is right, wrong, good or bad, friend or enemy lives our individual belief systems. It is fashioned by what we have been taught by the authorities in our lives and molded and fashioned by our personal life experiences.

I was raised in New York City. Everyone had an opinion about everything because survival required that you act strong or you would be victimized, dominated and seen as weak. That mentality creates bullies who exist in a climate of fear, where everyone is seen as an enemy, every interaction carries a potential threat and every day is approached as a new battle to be won.

I know those feelings well. My childhood was permeated with fear, sadness, anger and isolation because of the harshness of the environment. Dog eat dog was the reality, not just a random saying. I lived in a war zone. Because of my early experiences, I seek harmony and crave the softer side of the street.

Though it may look like there are only two positions, for or against, nothing could be further from the truth. Every head contains a world of its own. The external reality has shifted and is uncertain at best under the umbrella of this staggering political event that none of us can escape. Fight or flight is the automatic reaction to feelings of danger and threat. This is the context in which we are living right now.

Whatever our background, the challenge for each of us is to learn how to take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and responses during this crisis by identifying our predominant feelings and rather than attacking those who are in disagreement with our position, asking some deeper questions of ourselves.

When have I felt similar emotions? What specifically was happening to me at that time? How was I personally threatened or harmed by what happened? What core decisions did I make as a result of those experiences?

What is the value of this kind of exploration? If you have the courage, it will help you to glean valuable knowledge about the genesis of some of your habitual reactions to this political climate. It may not change your opinions or beliefs but it will simply invite you to own your emotional reactions as unique to you even if it seems that others share them.

Asking deeper questions can shift your perspective from being triggered by external stimulus to the opportunity to own your emotional reactions. Discover and acknowledge that they were born originally through experiences from your past that have not been totally resolved or understood.

If you are tempted to jump into the fray of political discourse, you will be equipped to actually have a discussion based upon your personal experience rather than tuning in to the thought channels that sanction pejorative name calling as the predominant way to bludgeon your opponent into submission.

We are being bombarded by political rhetoric. It is not necessary that we create a warring climate in our day-to-day environments. We each have the responsibility to decide to choose peace in our lives by refraining from the temptation to start individual wars as a misguided attempt to keep our legitimate fears and apprehensions at bay.


Susan is a local author and content writer and personal development facilitator. Reach her at:




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