How to deal with emotions from the #MeToo campaign
#MeToo is revealing the true number of people – women and men – who have faced experiences ranging from inappropriate indignities and abuses of power, to outright sexual violence.
These viral stories are everywhere and may remind you of incidents in your past you might have tried to bury.
Hearing others stories and sharing your own can lead to a re-experiencing of feelings of shame, and/or deep anger at those who committed those acts and those who might have been in a position to do something about it but didn’t.
It might help you see clearly why you cut off an important part of yourself or gave up on something that was important to you or someone you know. For myself in High School, after being the only girl percussionist, and one who was selected as the All-State tympanist for NY state, I discontinued a promising music career after a series of unwanted advances from my long time drum teacher.
I didn’t even make the connection until years later when I did research at Harvard Medical School on how we develop the patterns we keep with us until today. (Which led to me developing exercises that helped free me and many others from them.)
If you have been reading and listening to these stories and notice an emotional response in yourself, it could be because:
1. You are getting triggered – You are re-experiencing painful feelings or memories of things you experienced in the past that were out of your control.
2. Vicarious traumatization – You get overwhelmed from empathically feeling the feelings of people who actually experienced the trauma, leading you to similarly feel a sense of lack of control. You might be experiencing this if you feel burned out on the topic, overfocus on the negative, or feel a loss of hope.
Any and all good self care practices are called for in these times. Sharing with friends. Journaling. Walking in nature. Exercise. Trauma therapies. Tools from my book Success under Stress….
It can be helpful for you to use the opportunity to build awareness between experiences you’ve had and patterns you still have today so you can grow into the best version of yourself.
For many of us, the ‘negative voice’ you have about yourself comes originally from ‘explaining’ experiences you had growing up in terms of how it was your ‘fault’ or because you are ‘not worthy’. If looking back its obvious that adult or person in power was in the wrong, you might ask why would YOU take on the blame and think you are not good enough?
We usually develop our negative voice to
1) Have a semblance of control – If you tell yourself you are ‘not good enough’ it gives you the semblance of control that if you could only become ‘good enough’ then you’d get what you need and wouldn’t be treated with disrespect.
2) Maintain Hope – As children we’ll generally choose to internalize what parents and important authorities say about us because we have to keep them ‘right’ in order to maintain hope that they will take care of us. If we recognized their limitations we’d realize there is no hope to be seen for who we are. And that would lead to despair. So we ‘buy in’ to messages shown to us in order to maintain hope.
3) Protect you – That voice is often “trying to help” you be the best version of yourself but its quite outdated at this point and isn’t able to see the resources you currently would have if it didn’t keep criticizing you.
(In September before the Harvey Weinstein revelations, I was asked to write an article for an international women’s blog about why we don’t leave abusive relationships – at home or at work. It gives you a psychological understanding of some of these dynamics so I’ve reposted it on my blog for you.)
If YOUR ‘negative voice’ is significantly holding you back professionally or personally, there is definitely hope for you. If you want me to help you break free from your negative voice, I have developed some exercises that will help you immediately and permanently be free of that ‘negative voice’ and finally live up to your potential with less angst. Just reply to this email and I’ll send you information about what the process is.
The world is changing and I want you to be in your power so you can contribute to that change. Thank you
P.S. Please feel free to leave comments on the blog or write to me directly with questions that I can answer for you in a future blog.
P.P.S. If you want to support someone who has #MeToo experiences, listen to them.
Support their efforts to take their power back.
Encourage them to do a form of counseling that helps them reframe their experiences and rise above their continued negative self perception.
Educate your offspring and friends that they have the power to get themselves out of situations that feel uncomfortable.
Teach them self defense skills to ward off violence.
Tell your friends or colleagues to knock it off if they are saying things that are or abuse power.
Encourage them to go for a position for leadership in which they can change and role model the rules. Report people who harass to authorities at work or in your community.