We all need strategies to keep from feeling revictimized and retraumatized. For me, my daily morning walk/jog, is a time for meditation and prayer. It keeps me grounded and connected to my inner wisdom and sense of self.
This morning, for example, I contemplated the Serenity Prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I used this prayer as a tool to help me grapple with the current events. What do I need to accept here? What can I change, and what can I not? Where does my personal power lie?
Then the adapted Serenity Prayer came to me.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I can not change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that it is me.
I reminded myself that my personal power lies inside, beginning with my thoughts. My thoughts hold incredible power to create my reality, the way I experience life, and indeed what happens in my life.
I thought of my own past and how much my own thoughts impact the way I handle life. I had every excuse to give up, to live the life of a victim. As a survivor of child sex abuse, and the secondary trauma involved in being shunned and excommunicated by my family, I have been in some pretty dark places. I thought many times of giving up and giving in. But instead, I took my life back. I recreated myself and my life beginning with the power of my mind -- a process that continues every day.
I learned from Byron Katie’s “The Work” how to adjust my thoughts so that I have more power in my life. Now, whenever I notice I am feeling triggered or victimized I take a look at my thoughts and always, without exception, the thoughts behind my feelings are negative.
On my walk in the midst of the events surrounding the confirmation of an accused sexual predator to the Supreme Court, I noticed the following thoughts in my mind: "...I am powerless in the face of these politics, I can't change anything...the people in charge aren't safe, the world isn't safe...the best I can do is ignore it..."
No wonder I was feeling awful! But once I realized where my thinking was, I had the power to question the truth of my thoughts.
“It is really true that I am powerless? Is it true that I can't change anything? Is it true that the people in charge are unsafe, and the world is unsafe?”
It certainly seems true. It could be true, but perhaps the opposite could also be just as true. SoI tried on the opposite thoughts for size:
"I am powerful. I can't change other people (who can?) but I can change myself beginning with my thoughts. I am in charge of me, and in this moment, I am safe! my world is safe. I choose what I allow into my mind and out of my mouth!"
These thoughts are empowering and just as true. And I felt so much better acknowledging their truth.
I may not have control over who the president is, or who serves on the Supreme Court, but I sure do have control over what I allow into my mind and my heart. I have control over how I treat myself, in the sacred space of my internal world, and how I treat those closest to me.
This is really important -- because we have a constant impact on the people around us. When I am miserable and triggered, it not only affects me; it also affects my husband and children. On the other hand, when I feel centered, connected, grounded, and safe it affects those closest to me, with a powerful ripple effect.
Here lies my power. I can change the world by bringing my best self into it, by speaking my truth, and by hanging on to my own power.
In fact, Dr. Ford’s courage in speaking her truth reminded me of my own power. It can be difficult at moments like this to set boundaries around our minds and hearts. I am proud of myself for speaking up where it mattered in my life, to try to protect children from my molesting father, just as I am proud of Dr. Ford who is standing up and telling her truth, regardless of the outcome.
It is especially hard for us to find that power when we know, as surely as I did, that it might not make an immediate difference. We are facing the reality that Dr. Ford's testimony did not change the outcome. We have been watching her be discredited and disbelieved, shamed and threatened. We also know that she had everything to lose and nothing to gain personally by speaking up. This has been excruciating to witness.
Yet, we are also watching real power in action. Dr. Ford has demonstrated incredible courage and integrity -- and she is modeling what it looks like to speak our truth. This is strength. This is hope. These are the women and men of true power who affect our lives, and are changing our world, every day.
In the meantime, young people are also listening and learning important lessons. They are learning that people of courage and integrity speak up and take action, even when things look hopeless. And they are witnessing first hand that their actions, as young teens and young adults matter, and will affect them and others far into the future.