The newspapers are full of it. It’s tweeted. Liked on Facebook. Messaged on Linkedin. The neighbour is talking about it and the baker too.
Everyone wonders what will happen to us and fears for their own safety.
It seems that the fear in and around us is gaining momentum.
I have very little to add to the discourse about Donald Trump. I have nothing to say that has not been said by others.
But what I do recognize is a chronic feeling of anxiety and fear. In myself and around me. I recognize it from my clients as well. These days, in my practice, relatively more people are reporting in with symptoms of anxiety. And often the fear is vague, and people find it difficult to put into words. But meanwhile, they’re lying awake.
People worry about the future. About their own safety and that of their children and grandchildren. They experience the world as increasingly insecure. They are afraid of a terrorist attack, of radicalization and of the ever-growing splits in our society. Also they fear losing a job and financial problems. Also they fear becoming terminally ill.
Psychiatrist Dirk De Wachter discussed this earlier this week in ‘De Afspraak op Een’ in which he described today’s society as a democracy in which more and more people are depressed, anxious and tired (if you’d like to see the interview with Dirk De Wachter, click on the link at the end of this blog).
However, the bulk of these anxiety symptoms are apparently difficult to put into words. People can hardly say exactly what they are scared of, but they frequently feel rushed, sleep poorly and have nightmares.
Anxiety, also called vague feelings of fear, are felt in our bodies. Our nervous system is strained. We are ready to fight, to flee. Or to freeze.
The election of Donald Trump has speeded up these anxious feelings for many people.
Anxiety is contagious
But if you are anxious, it is not just about yourself, but also the people around you. For fear is contagious!
The vast majority of our communication is non-verbal. Our brains are connected in an invisible and unconscious way with each other. Through our ‘antennae’ we know (unconsciously) exactly how it is with another person. And not only that. Through our ‘antennae’ we also absorb these feelings from each other.
Anyone who has ever had to comfort a crying baby, knows this only works when you yourself are relatively quiet. If you yourself are anxious, it is much harder to get the baby quiet. This is because the baby, through his sensitive antennae, absorbs your anxiety.
So if we ourselves are anxious, we ’infect’ others with our fear.
Do you recognize this?
How can you best deal with these fears? In the first place because you want to feel better yourself, but also because you do not want to continue to contribute to the infection that makes people around you also feel anxious.
Autonomy as a tool
Transactional Analysis (TA) once again provides a practical answer, namely the concept of autonomy.
Autonomy is understood in TA as follows:
“If we live Autonomously, we live consciously in the here and now. We look at what is here and is in place now and what options we have in what we do. In our thinking and our actions. “
In a world where a spiral of fear seems to rise up, it is even more important that people continue to think, feel and act autonomously.
If we are autonomous, we…
- … recognize the feelings of fear in our Child, but do not get carried away by them. If we are afraid, we will not drown in the fear, but continue to reflect on it. We continue to think about the fear. About the real danger and how we can protect ourselves against it. We become aware of the fact that we are often infected by the fear of others.
- … look from our Adult at exactly what we can do to solve the problem. We start thinking about what we can do so that we are no longer afraid, within our own sphere of influence. We will assess what the fear is based on in terms of real facts and what the fear is not.
- … from our Parent we see what our values are, and we bring them to life. We continue to think critically and continue to operate from our own values and norms. We are prepared to question and are also willing to enter into dialogue with others who have other values and norms.
So, I don’t want to lose myself in the general social discourse that has been given momentum by the election of Donald Trump. Most of us, after all, have no direct influence on what is happening worldwide.
Where we all have influence is on ourselves.
And in our own vicinity.
And that way we can really make a difference.
As we learn in a constructive way to handle our fear and feel a degree of peace in ourselves, we can truly in make a difference our own vicinity. We ‘infect’ others not with our anxiety, but with our peace. Because both tranquillity and fear are contagious.
How I found, together with Anja, a solution for her fear
Anja is a project manager in a big company and managing a team of 200 people.
She told me that she doesn’t know how to keep a cool head. That there is so much talk about the elections in the US and that she notices that people are increasingly anxious and restless.
In a conversation we make an analysis: What is she afraid of exactly?
- She says that fear keeps her in a stranglehold. We analyse the real threat today and how this is different from yesterday.
- She says that she fears for the loss of moral values, which are linked to the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’. She notes that in her staff and how they interact with each other.
We look at how she can develop a position where her fear is under control rather than letting it master her. And we talk about the things she can do in her own sphere of influence. We speak about how she, in the company, from her own position, can deal with this.
- How within the company she can encourage respectful communication with each other. So she decides, for example, to organize more courses in intercultural communication.
- We talk about value-oriented leadership. So she decides to take action in her immediate environment and to see how she can contribute to a way of working in which the rights of the people are respected.
From this conversation she has the tools to regain control over the situation in her own limited area. And therefore get a grip on anxiety and stop it from ‘keeping her in a stranglehold’.
So I help Anja to function autonomously. To not let herself be carried away by the spiral of fear. And, a better working environment is created for 200 people. These people have again their own impact on their own families. This will probably help the atmosphere in 200 families. And this way there might at least 500 people who feel a little better.
In this ‘Trump era’ it’s important to not get carried away by fear and other negative emotions. It is more important than ever to remain thinking, feeling and acting autonomously. And to find ways to get on with others ethically and respectfully.
Do you want to learn how to deal with anxiety?
Do you work in the care sector or health sector and want to learn yourself how to deal with fear and anxiety to autonomously?
Do you want to learn how to help others do the same? Your clients, employees, patients, pupils?
Do you want to learn how TA can help you with this? Do you want to learn how you can achieve this autonomy?
Then sign up for the two-day Introduction to Transactional Analysis.
In a beautiful tranquil location, a comfortable Mongolian tent, we all get to work exploring how you can achieve more autonomy in your life. Because life is better that way. Quieter. More efficient. And less anxious.
LINK – The Appointment with Dirk De Wachter