Below are four ways Trump’s presidency has evoked a sense of powerlessness:
1) Marginalization – when an individual or group minimizes or disavows the legitimacy, rights or privileges of others who are believed to be somehow different from the mainstream.
2) Internalizing external reality- themes of loss related to reduced importance, influence, power, trust, equality.
3) Institutionalizing Biased Rhetoric – concerns that one will be defined by others and escalate a culture of blame. Resulting in oppression, threats, isolation, victimization, vulnerability, violence, helplessness and fatalistic views.
4) Concerns that there will be exclusion – denial from fulfilling social lives via loss of control over resources and contributions to society.
It is helpful here to differentiate between powerlessness and empowerment. To feel powerless is a common human experience because there are some things you obviously have no control over. However, even in situations where you feel such impotence, you can still empower yourself to take positive action and choose a positive direction. Each and every human has a choice in how they respond to suffering.
Suffering is unavoidable. But you can choose your attitude. You can choose to see the unconditional meaning in all of the suffering your experience. Even in the extremely difficult situations you face, you have the opportunity to grow spiritually, taking difficulties as a test of your inner strength. You can find inner strength by looking to some future goal, which allows you to rise above the sufferings of the moment as if they were already in the past. Suffering ceases to be suffering the very moment you find meaning.
There is opportunity in suffering. You have the opportunity to accept the challenges you are faced with, to be proud of your struggles and suffer bravely. The decisions you make are your responsibility and you chose how to interpret your suffering. You can chose to find meaning in it, to use your suffering by turning a tragedy into a triumph, by seeing a hopeless situation as a growth experience. Yet, if you choose to obsess and worry about past and future misfortune, you’ll most certainly create a life filled with discomfort, anxiety, fear, and frustration.
If this way of thinking goes unchecked, it snowballs and you become plagued with negative thoughts and emotions. Eventually there is no room for your natural state of peaceful mind. If, on the other hand, you turn your mind in a different direction, you create the space for peace to emerge. It is not unlike tending a garden, where you diligently pull the weeds you don’t want and water the plants you wish to grow.
No single technique is effective for everyone. As s mental health professional my advice is to Increase: appreciation, gratitude, resilience and belonging through collective action.