How Did the Fiscal Cliff and Government Shut Down Impact You?
No, this is not a political blog.
I will leave that to the pundits and politicians.
Today’s post is about the emotional impact of national events on each of us. How did this drama impact adults? How did it affect kids? How can we cope with these events when they happen? While we are all relieved that the immediate drama is over, the proverbial can has only been kicked down the street. No one is confident that we are out of the woods.
World and national crises do have an impact on each of us, no matter the color of our views. The crisis over chemical weapons in Syria, the furlough of government employees, and the possibility of economic crisis by defaulting on government debt are destabilizing to all of us. It increases our anxiety level. It can intensify whatever worries we may have about other problems in our lives.
Of course government workers and local businesses that serve those employees (restaurants, etc.) were directly impacted. Their day-to-day lives were disrupted and they had to cope with an uncertain future. They had no idea when they would go back to work.
Even adults who were not directly effected can find themselves feeling stressed, without knowing why. Joe finds himself eating more sweets. Mary doesn’t seem to have much of an appetite. Bill has trouble falling asleep or wakes up at 3 a.m. Sarah already has financial problems, now she is worrying about her job. Henry is grouchy and can’t really put his finger on why. Dave puts off making a big purchase, without any reason. Andrea cancels an expensive vacation—“It just isn’t a good time!”
While younger children may not understand these events, they’re emotional sponges of adult stress. They absorb our fear and anxiety. During the two weeks of discord and contention on capital hill, many individuals were mad. Little kids wonder why we are so angry. Did they do something wrong? They tend to personalize their parent’s emotional state.
Teenagers are more aware of what is going on. They are trying to understand the adult stage that they will soon be on. It’s confusing. Why can’t these adults come to an agreement? They understand confrontation (and they can be masters of emotional blackmail)—but they expect more from the adult world. They may find themselves feeling disappointed and uncertain. What adult world will they inherit?
We are much more aware of how our immediate world impacts us. Work stress, financial problems, or relationship issues directly affect each of us. It is easy for us to connect these stressors with our own emotional and physical reactions. But larger issues are destabilizing and create distress that we can’t directly identify. We can’t always connect the dots.
All of us share the collective illusion that the world should be predictable and constant. We can go for long periods where everything stays the same. We like that, especially if it is a positive circumstance. Even, if it isn’t, humans are great adapters. We don’t like change. We hate uncertainty.
So how can we cope with these national and international dramas more effectively?
Be self-aware. The impact of community events can be subtle. Look within and acknowledge what you are feeling. Notice how you are behaving. Some of us are more sensitive than others. Know yourself.
Express your emotions. Find ways to vent your frustration. Notice how your body feels. Find ways of expressing your anxieties and worries to others. Find healthy ways of releasing stress and anxiety.
Explain to your children what is going on. I know, how do you explain some of these problems to young children? Use words and metaphors that they can understand. Acknowledge that this can make adults worry. Encourage your teens to research and learn about world events. Knowledge is power.
How did recent events impact you?