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.





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  1. I wish I could have used this in my paper. I didn’t have enough room but this is exactly what your granddaughter was thinking as she did her research. And you’ve worded it so well that if only I could have put it in!!!!

    That being said, I also really hope you’re right about this Trump think because to be quite honest, I’m terrified of coming home.

  2. I’m not crazy about Ronald Reagan, but he did say something I think is valid for these times. Here it is with my slight variation. What Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” What I say, “Hope, but stay alert and active.”

  3. Ooh, I like that! … coming from my favorite editor.

  4. And I love you moe, so there! ….

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