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Category: Stress and Trauma

Standing Firm in an Era of Public Gaslighting

Standing Firm in an Era of Public Gaslighting

The further things move along, the more intense they get out there. The religio-political gaslighting from the right wing is particularly intense right now, so I wanted to offer a quick post talking about what that looks like and offering some techniques for reasonable folks to stand firm in these challenging times. About Me As a reminder, I’m approaching this topic as a communication scholar who teaches interpersonal communication and has emphases in rhetoric and mediated communication. My research focus…

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Strategies for When You Can’t Fix Everything (Especially Now)

Strategies for When You Can’t Fix Everything (Especially Now)

Okay, so the world is scary and overwhelming. The Hopi, as a friend shared with me, have a word for this situation: kayaanisquatsi. It means “Nature that is out of balance or a way of life that is so crazy it cannot continue long term.” (The definition’s from What a Wonderful Word by Kane Miller.) This is certainly the case with our current situation in the world, especially in the US. Between the pandemic and wild fires and the current…

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QAnon Conspiracy Rhetoric, Hypervigilance, and Questions of Trust

QAnon Conspiracy Rhetoric, Hypervigilance, and Questions of Trust

If you’ve been following along here, you should know that I’ve already been doing a series on the rhetoric of conspiracy for the last few weeks. I previously talked about conspiracy theories here, here and here. This week I’ve seen sex trafficking experts having to work extra hard to refute unhealthy conspiracy rhetoric around that subject (check out, for example, this post I shared recently on the Assertive Spirituality FB page). This piece is a response to that while continuing…

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Creating a Healthier Serenity Prayer for Stressful Times

Creating a Healthier Serenity Prayer for Stressful Times

I’ve long loved the Serenity Prayer in its classic version. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” When this prayer is paired with a rich understanding of the emotions and stress response processing that has to go with it, it’s great. The problem, of course, is that when it is separated from those things and only viewed cognitively, this prayer can…

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Striving for Healthy Dissent (in Today’s Progressive Politics)

Striving for Healthy Dissent (in Today’s Progressive Politics)

Hello friends! Lately I’ve been thinking about—and encountering—a lot of both healthy dissent and also the unhealthy varieties, especially when it comes to the 2020 election among my left-leaning and progressive friends. So today I want to unwrap some of those facets of the differences between healthy and unhealthy dissent, and encourage us all to diagnose the difference in ourselves and others so we can achieve our shared goals without too much unhealthy detraction. And let’s be honest: this is…

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COVID-19, Religious Organizations, and Spiritual Trauma: A Rhetorical Analysis

COVID-19, Religious Organizations, and Spiritual Trauma: A Rhetorical Analysis

It happened so quickly, didn’t it? On March 1 in my first article about COVID-19 on this site, I was apologizing for calling the current pandemic “only a cold,” and recommending preparations. About that time I was also recommending that my university students absolutely not shake hands with each other when they did their in-class interviews. Since then, we in the US have all been metaphorically hit by a freight train—okay, a virus—forcing us to rethink how we do connection…

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Assertively Countering #COVID19’s Abusive Effects

Assertively Countering #COVID19’s Abusive Effects

As I’ve gone through the last few weeks, it’s been extremely obvious that the responses to this COVID-19 pandemic that are NOT denialist have fallen roughly along two different tracks, one of which is profoundly more disturbing than the other: (1) this is life, people die, and the economy and/or profits are more important than that; and (2) this is life, let’s band together, and there’s a lot to grieve here, so let’s make space to do that. In this…

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Managing Our Anxieties of Influence in an Age of #COVID19

Managing Our Anxieties of Influence in an Age of #COVID19

This article is about my observations of the anxieties about being able to influence such a huge problem as a global pandemic like #COVID19. You know, that really overwhelming thing that the majority of reasonable people are looking to the best experts to help with right now, and following their advice. Which is why you’re super-anxious about your 79-year-old great aunt who thinks just running to Target for a few things rather than getting delivery is still a very normal…

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Doing Our Best to Maintain Our Pandemic Care Ecosystem

Doing Our Best to Maintain Our Pandemic Care Ecosystem

Well, what I feared when I was researching the piece I wrote here two weeks ago on responding healthily to the coronavirus has happened. It’s here. And not just one death, as it was then. More. We still don’t know even close to the scope of how many cases there are in the US, because of the lack of testing. But things—major things—have been closing. It’s exhaustingly stressful and overwhelming for many of us—those who are taking it seriously and…

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The World’s Looking for a Stable Emergent Leader: No Pressure, Democrats! (A Rhetorical Analysis)

The World’s Looking for a Stable Emergent Leader: No Pressure, Democrats! (A Rhetorical Analysis)

A day or two ago, a sympathetic yet anxious friend from overseas asked me to explain the dynamics around why the fallout from Super Tuesday was coming down the way it was. Between that and others’ interpretations of the race and my own analysis, I’ve come up with a fairly unified theory, based in my study and teaching of stress, trauma, and conflict communication, as to what’s going on. This present blog post will unwrap a few of the dimensions…

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Responding Healthily to the Rhetoric of Denial and Fear: Coronavirus

Responding Healthily to the Rhetoric of Denial and Fear: Coronavirus

I’ve seen great pieces in recent days with titles like “you can’t gaslight a virus.” Sadly, you can muddy the rhetorical waters around it big time though–and that can enable its spread. And we’ve been seeing a lot of that from multiple sources, including the US government. A lot of times the rhetoric ends up ramping up the fear in response to the uncertainty of such an event. This blog post looks at the ways all of this happens and…

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How to Push Back Against Demonization and Warmongering

How to Push Back Against Demonization and Warmongering

As I pointed out last week, 2020’s been really religio-politically intense so far. What with war being threatened between the US and Iran and Australia burning, it feels like the world is bating its breath to see what’s going to happen. Meanwhile, rhetoric from the current US administration is turning real humans into seeming cartoons, continuing to demonize and dehumanize the Other—especially the progressive/liberal other and the Middle Eastern other (not to mention other brown-skinned immigrant others). It’s important to…

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Why None of Us Can Be “Perfectly Woke” or Safe

Why None of Us Can Be “Perfectly Woke” or Safe

Well, friends, we’re here. Friday was the 3rd anniversary of the 2016 election. And everywhere I look I see the signs that we’re all pretty tired. And as I said a couple of weeks ago, one of the phenomena that pops up when we’re all as exhausted as we are (for good reason) is the “eating one’s own” phenomenon, especially within what’s often referred to as “call out culture.” Often this phenomena comes out in expectations of perfection that each…

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When Good People Get Tired: Persistence in Speaking Up

When Good People Get Tired: Persistence in Speaking Up

Listen, all of us in the US have been going through a religio-political apocalypse for the last few years—it’s been almost three years for many of us white people in the US (muuuuch longer for POC and other people in marginalized communities). In this article, I’m going to talk (as someone who studies stress, trauma, and conflict communication) about why it’s so reasonable that we’re so tired, explain some communicative signs and dangers that can occur when we’re all tired,…

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Greta Thunberg and the Problems with (Self-)Censorship

Greta Thunberg and the Problems with (Self-)Censorship

This inspiring image is circulating of Greta Thunberg sitting alone outside the Swedish Parliament a year ago with a sign. This is being circulated alongside yesterday’s climate rallies, where millions around the world, led by young people, led by Greta Thunberg, rallied for climate change in an effort to try to get change on one of the biggest problems our planet faces. We Can’t All Become Greta Thunberg—But We’ll Never Know If We Don’t Try Too often we internalize this…

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