Since Trump’s election, the majority of my clients feel agitated, hopeless or haunted by a fuzzy, low-grade anxiety. To say that’s understandable is a whopping understatement.
My initial response: “Turn off, tune out and drop in.” This is a distorted variation of Timothy Leary‘s defining counterculture-era phrase from the 60s: “Turn on, tune in, drop out”
And here’s what I mean:
I no longer hound dog the news, not because I’m in denial, but the ongoing clusterfuck is too incestuous, too convoluted to unravel amidst the coming-at-you-every-five-minutes barrage of infoglut. It would take every iota of my psychic force to gain a sliver of objective truth — and I’ve other shit I want to do.
But this obsessive entanglement is what ensnares most folks: Once online their nervous system is tweaked, twanged and poked — like a cyber-driven form of Chinese water torture. And there’s a method to the madness.
Big media is complicit with Trump in myriad tacit ways. Trump is the grift that keeps on giving. As some internet advertising maven said once: “Anger makes people click.” Within our carnival culture, clicking means money.
Trump is one of the angriest human beings on earth (natal Mars in Leo is conjunct a Leo ascendant — translated: righteous anger stoked by entitlement and a hybrid form of narcissism that has yet to be properly diagnosed).
And Americans are some of the angriest people on the planet. They are also — in the era of the homogenous online ‘hive mind’ — desperate for acknowledgment, for some sense of being a unique individual — so it’s a great match. People get the president they deserve or at the very least the president that mirrors their shadow.
My favorite form of self-torture is to trawl the comments section of any article I come across online. This is akin to flipping the lid up on the American Id.
Should the comments sections be uncensored, like, on Youtube, then — OMG — turn back! Or brace to be soaked in our culture’s kookoo watering hole. The Internet has unleashed a Pandora’s pox of rage and spread it virally into everyone’s home (and head). Historically this is unprecedented. But take heart. Amidst the horrors there are opportunities. Attached to ‘full exposure’ is the potential for full illumination.
I do occasionally check in with three websites. Democracy Now, The Intercept (though I wish Glenn Greenwald had a mean editor) and a new site I’m loving, The Outline (kind of like a non-puerile Gawker with political undertones and smart sardonic reporting). Those three sites give me enough info to have a cursory idea of the State of the Nation.
And then I get on with living.
The Shadow Knows
The mechanism of psychological projection works like this: The unconscious conjures an image related to some unsavory quality within the self and projects that image onto someone (or some condition, political party or ethnic group.) An adversarial relationship is established. The only way free from this position is through recollection. Reabsorption of the projection.
Projections are weird because usually — intermixed with the projection — is a lot of energy, passion and force. So when that’s blasted out and lands on someone or something outside, a huge chunk of one’s vitality is lost too.
Self-inquiry facilitates dissolving — the realization that the projection is coming from inside one’s own home.
After that insight, you can go to work on recollecting. Owning the projection to regain access to the psychic force that went missing. This is what maturation is all about. But with a Trickster like Trump at the helm, it’s doubly difficult to pause, evaluate and reclaim. But this is a necessary discipline should you wish to drop in on what you’re interested in creating in life.
Which is really the point of this post. If you feel you want to do something more than react, rant and re-post articles from the New York Times about Trump’s latest outrage, well, start recollecting. That method allows you to turn off and tune out. You’ve made a clean break. Now you can DROP IN.
When a projection is owned, the rearrangement within the psyche creates a blank spot or hole within the fabric of one’s familiar sense of self. This hole can act as a sort of portal into whatever you’re wishing to align with or do or create in your life.
The quirky thing about projections: Not only does the projection rob you of vital force it acts as a distraction — a way to avoid engaging with life because, well, “I’ve got so many fucking things I want to complain about!”
When the complaining stops what do you do?
Drop into the hole and see where the portal leads you. If you need assistance book a session with me and we’ll work it through.
You don’t need to have all the specifics about what it is you’ll be involved with (or maybe you do — maybe you want to take to the streets and protest, run for political office or just clean out your garage — it doesn’t matter.) What matters is that you’ve regained the drive for doing whatever. You’ve dropped into your life and out of the swirling, distracting miasma of Trumplandia.
Buddhism anticipated the reluctant conclusions of modern psychology: guilt and anxiety are not adventitious but intrinsic to the ego. According to my interpretation of Buddhism, our dissatisfaction with life derives from a depression even more immediate than death-terror: the suspicion that “I” am not real.
The sense-of-self is not self-existing but a mental construction which experiences its own groundlessnes as a lack. This sense-of-lack is consistent with what psychotherapy has discovered about ontological guilt and basic anxiety. We usually cope with this lack by objectifying it in various ways and try to resolve it through projects which cannot succeed because they do not address the fundamental issue.
So our most problematic dualism is not life fearing death but a fragile sense-of-self dreading its own groundlessness. By accepting and yielding to that groundlessness, I can discover that I have always been grounded, not as a self-contained being but as one manifestation of a web of relationships which encompass everything. This solves the problem of desire by transforming it. As long as we are driven by lack, every desire becomes a sticky attachment that tries to fill up a bottomless pit. Without lack, the serenity of our no-thing-ness, i.e., the absence of any fixed nature, grants the freedom to become anything.
— David Loy Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 92 Vol. 24