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jueves, 6 de noviembre de 2008

Understanding PEDS (Post-Election Distress Syndrome)

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group)"

Understanding the Psychology of Post-Election Distress Syndrome
By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor

A major election leads to major change—psychologically, that is. No matter who wins an election, the unexpected emotional let down or explosive reaction after the ballots are counted can be overwhelming to many, especially the aged or over-involved who can be set up for crushing amounts of what I call P.E.D.S. or Post-Election Distress Syndrome.

This election has likely been the most stressful of any during our lifetime because of numbing news fatigue and continual media over-exposure, yet the real problems are yet to come. Personal anxiety, professional panic and poorly thought out decisions are on the horizon regardless of your political persuasion.

Why such a gloomy projection?

It's based on how this election process has been so overwhelming much of the time with months of negative news, never ending data to process and confusing choices to make on complex issues while partisan experts are shouting every half-hour on news/talk stations that we are all doomed if their candidate doesn't win. Not to mention the huge challenge on who is trust-worthy, since you often don't know who will say something inappropriate on YouTube and crash their credibility, leaving you feeling very alone to make some major decisions without leaders who lacked the strength of character to stand on their convictions instead of popular opinion polls.

Mountain top experiences guarantee the next step is always the valley

Think of a major campaign like climbing a major mountain range. You prepare for years and climb for months to finally reach the top. Once there the view is great. You take some pictures, but you can't stay on a mountain top, so no matter which way you head, it's down in any direction. After the mountain top comes the valley, which is a normal part of life. The danger is that for many people the downward slide is so unexpected. Most actual mountain climbing accidents happen on the way down, and I project that there will be millions of people who are unprepared for the emotional upheaval they are about to experience after the election is over.

Everyone will feel some degree of emotional let down once the issues have been decided and the acceptance speeches are given. That's normal, however for some the removal of posters, signs, balloons and banners will lead to a free fall of depressing emotions. If someone has been a 'news junkie' the last few months it will be especially stressful. Those feelings of distress will come out in one of two ways.

Two possible reactions to post-election distress

1) Anger –
Which can lead to violence and impulsive decisions. People who feel violated by the election process will often turn to dumping volcanic levels of anger at someone or something to find relief for the pressure inside. This can lead to devastating decisions, impulsive rage or using the wrong words in front of the wrong people and losing credibility or worse a job. This can happen in men or women, young or old, but is most commonly seen in more extroverted personalities and it tends to blow up and blow out fast.

2) Apathy –
This is a more dangerous reaction, since it can lead from distress to the early stages of depression. Stuffing emotions inside is like burying them alive and they just keep building up, yet instead of blowing up and out, they blow in. This leads a person to feel emotionally numb, and often can cause an individual to commit a series of very quiet, yet very harmful self-destructive acts. Eating for comfort, drinking to numb the pain, hooking up with the wrong partner to try and forget about the election or just refusing to answer the phone, closing the mini-blinds and checking out on life like a hermit hiding in a dark cave.

The best choice after an election is completed is Acceptance. It's over and now it's time to move on with whatever leaders and issues the majority of voters selected. You can't change the outcome of an election, but you can freak yourself out with fears about the future apocalypse predicted by many. Don't do that! Life will go on, and your world will continue. God is bigger than any politician and isn't in a panic, so trust in heaven's agenda and not that of Washington and you'll immediately find a deeper level of peace.

What happens in your house is way more important than what happens in the White House since you can't control what political leaders do, but you can control you. Let this journey off of the political 'mountain' be one of a growing sense of perspective as you remember that after the valley there will be another mountain to climb. There will be another day to vote on national issues and when the dust settles your life will usually be about as good as you choose to make it. This approach takes the power to control your mood away from the politicians or the media, so you can build a better life without losing sleep or energy from the dangers of post-election distress syndrome.

Reprint Permission- If this article was helpful you are invited to share it electronically or in print with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint and thanks for helping us to help others to stay calm during this season of change.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group)"

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 150 complimentary articles and special reports at

miércoles, 27 de agosto de 2008

Mi garden and me

For the first time our law school closed for a week and I had an unplanned vacation to stay home. It was mid July and quite hot in this western city of Puerto Rico, but being outdoors was what my soul required ... so I found a new hobby: gardening. It wasn't totally new to me, but definetely at a new level, more ambitious and with real usefulness, based on the fluctuations of today's world economy. It was still fun, and here some pictures to prove it:

<--Yautía - a root vegetable that takes a whole year to give fruit. They resemble a long potato, but the taste is very different. It's a healthy side dish that can be served mashed with oil and garlic and can also be used to prepare "pasteles", one of our typical christmas dishes. I continue to plant some more in the back, so we can enjoy them for several months next year...

Hopefully there wont be any huricanes or bad storms messing with them.

A couple of visitors made my work more enjoyable:

<--- San Pedrito de Puerto Rico - a small insect eater that protects the coffee trees - his top part is all green, making it hard to see in the trees, his song sounds like a kiss blown in the air, and his nest is a little cave he digs in the side of the hills. --> Lizard - keeps the flies away and is a temptation for Kiwi, my cat.

--> Not easy to keep the yard clean... it's all Adam and Eve's fault....

---> and Nicolas' fault too !!

<-- A blooming farmer; I think my grandfather would be proud of me.. I really enjoy this!! -->

<-- Tito prepares the soil for planting okra.. which is a vegetable that we love to eat. We usually cook it together with some meat and accompany with white rice.

--> okra seed - it took less than a week for the first little leaves to come up.. that was exciting!

<--Another wonderful visitor: a stick bug... first time I see one "in person".. we were very careful not to harm him. --> We put him on this 'yautía' leave where he stayed a long time, for us to enjoy his company.

<-- Don't ask me... must be the sun and the hard work!!

--> OMG... Nicolas too... this is bad!!

<-- Always wanted to plant some flowers... hopefully they'll keep blooming and I will try a few more.

--> This is how big the okra plants are growing in August... we hope to have a good harvest soon... of "molondrones" or "quimbombó" which are a couple of our names for okra.

miércoles, 18 de junio de 2008

cicadas... oh, my "chicharras"

Main Entry: ci·ca·da
Pronunciation: \sə-ˈkā-də, -ˈkä-; sī-ˈkā-\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural ci·ca·das also ci·ca·dae \-ˈkā-(ˌ)dē, -ˈkä-\
Etymology: New Latin, genus name, from Latin, cicada
Date: 14th century
: any of a family (Cicadidae) of homopterous insects which have a stout body, wide blunt head, and large transparent wings and the males of which produce a loud buzzing noise usually by stridulation

My grandmother, Francisca, used to tell me that you could attract a "chicharra" by moving your leather sole sandals or shoes back and forth loudly over the wooden floor until the little bug appeared at your feet. Rubber sole sandals and sneakers became popular when I was a kid, so I never tried her trick. Also I didn't want to think about what would happen next if the little creature showed up at my feet. Could it be that my little, frail, blue eyed and braided long haired "mamá" would be so cruel as to step on that innocent although loud little bug... well, the thought just ruins my poetic concept of "Mamá Sica".
I have to admit that bugs can really bug you. I especially hated as a kid, and still do, the winged ants that invade our houses at night in the tropic. They always come in bunches, on certain damp nights, and huddle around the light that is right above you when you are trying to read and relax. I don't feel too cruel when I swap a few of these aimlessly.
But the chicharras are special to me. They became special in 1996, when I was building the little country house where I live now.
It was mid October at about 6:30 PM when I “met” them, as they broke the quietness of my future hidden paradise with the loudest choir of chicharras I ever heard… I was overwhelmed with the worrisome thought of how I could live permanently in this place. My trauma lasted about 4 minutes because all of the sudden the choir stopped… what happened? Silence returned, only broken by a single song of a loner chicharra here and there in the familiar puertorrican nightly song, performed also by some crickets accompanying the main song of the coquí. This was fine: I could live with this!
And I have for 12 ½ years. I learned, since that first encounter, that I would experience this 4-or-so-minutes choir each night, at the same time, without missing a beat! Except that I noticed, when the days became shorter as we approached the Christmas season, that the choir of chicharras would be a little earlier… as if they knew (or announced) the beginning of the night each night. By the time we actually moved to our “casita” in January of 1997, the chicharras were performing their nightly song at 6 PM. But then one night they didn’t perform, and I missed them. I was so accustomed to them; I could set my watch by their song. But they didn’t sing the next night either, nor the following nights, or weeks or months! Maybe we had disturbed their paradise and they had left us, probably breaking the ecological equilibrium of the universe.
My guilt lasted until the middle of May, when one night, unexpectedly: I heard my friends’ choir again! I couldn’t believe my ears, but how couldn’t I … they were so marvelously loud!! It was about 7 PM, so I was alert the next night, and they didn’t disappoint me. I concluded that maybe they were mating during those spring nights so I accepted the situation as something positive now. That first summer in my casita I understood that the chicharras were definitely announcing the beginning of the night, as their song was heard as late as 7:20 PM, when our longest day ended at about 7:30 PM. And they continued, imperceptibly earlier each night throughout the rest of the year until mid January when their song was at about 6 PM and then stopped again. I couldn’t find anything in my books that would tell me about what I had discovered, and everyone I shared it with had not noticed this pattern. But when mid May came, my friends returned; and I knew everything in the universe was still ok.
Twelve years later I still listen to them and celebrate their faithfulness in doing what was designed by the Creator for them to do. Today, July 24, 2008, I made this little video in my back yard, at 7:12 PM, so I’m sharing with you my beloved chicharra choir at Barrio Rosario of Mayagüez. Puerto Rico.


Datos personales

Mi foto
I was born once in my dear city of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, where I now live once more, after living 18 years in the state of Massachusetts where I was born again.