Dr. Suzanne B. Phillips

Licensed Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Diplomate in Group Psychology, Certified Group Therapist, Author, Radio Host and Media Consultant Covering a Wide Range of Psychological Topics

Post: Are We All Emotionally and Politically Exhausted? Some Thoughts

Lately people both inside and outside of my office spontaneously report that they can’t take hearing the news. It keeps them up at night. The problem they report is that they can’t help turning it on or responding when one of their many devices signals “ Breaking News.”  Most of us can identify with this cycle that leaves us anxious, angry and politically exhausted.

My association is to the two summers I spent with runaway girls in a detention center.

Given the hovering impeachment, the almost war with Iran, the overt racism, anti-Semitic violence, the Migration Crisis, school shootings, ignored Global Warming, the screams of “Fake News” and the inability to discern what is true- we are like children in a family where violence, threats, lies and mistrust are daily fare. There are no apologies, no reparations and as such, no guarantees that the terror will stop.

The children of such families are hypervigilant. Some identify with the most aggressive parent, some soothe their victimized siblings, some act out, some runaway, many fight with each other with the rage meant for the parents. Dysregulation in these families is difficult to escape as it is necessary to keep an eye on the most dysregulated parent – It is called survival; but not without pain.

It was with this thinking in mind that I found solace in the realization that today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr, a man who embodies what this nation needs every day and in particular as we face the Senate Impeachment Trial.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s  mission and legacy of acceptance, non-violence, love, courage, wisdom, justice and spirituality offers re-framing and hope.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

This hope is what some of my runaway girls actually had despite the dire straits they had faced. It is something for us to use as a backdrop to the contention in the State of Our Union.

Civil rights lawyer, Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, and the op-ed piece “ The Injustice of This Moment is Not an Aberration.” suggests that perhaps we are in this dangerous place not because something different is happening but because too much has remained the same. She recognizes the pain and injustice; but believes there is hope for us to “Make America what it must become.” She even offers the belief that a politics of solidarity is emerging.

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s—Stride Toward Freedom, 1958

Whatever our social, cultural, racial, gender, religious or political group, we will be less frightened and at times more accepting of others and ourselves if we recognize our connections.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s —”Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963


As we head into a week of uncertainty please consider that these strategies may make a difference for you and others:

  • Connection with others for love and hope
  • Generosity even in the smallest even random gesture of respect or kindness
  • Gratitude for everyday joys maybe with little or big children or little or big pets
  • Respect for those who have suffered and who have been deemed disposable
  • Honesty of purpose
  • Courage to apologize
  • Spirituality as a gift in face of fear and doubt
  • Exercise for recharging and enjoyment
  • Art, Music, literature for inspiration and the joy of escape

Self-Care is an antidote to fear, hate and helplessness.

“ Only in the darkness can you see the Stars.” 

– Martin Luther King Jr

Self-Care is a path to helpfulness.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Listen in to Psych Up Live as Dr. Gary Slutkin discusses Violence: A Contagious Disease that Can Be Cured