Friday, June 22, 2018

History Will Not Be Kind to Trump: Do You See What I See?

I wasn't going to write anything about Trump until I could reach beyond a reactionary response to his divisiveness and black and white thinking.  

But you know, I have to start where I am, as an observer with a counselor background and a keen interest in the American Presidency and history.  I have to process what I see.  And I have seen a lot as have you. 

Do you see what I see?

A friend recently pointed out that President Trump meets every one of the criteria for a Sociopath.    Here are the criteria for a high functioning sociopath:  

High IQ: High functioning sociopaths often have a higher IQ than other sociopaths or people without personality disorders. This helps them plan, manipulate, and exploit others.

Lack of empathy: Difficulty is empathizing with others or understanding the emotional consequences of their actions.

Narcissism: They often have strong self-love and grandiose self-image. This occurs because of low esteem and delusional beliefs.

Charming: Although most sociopaths lack empathy, they are capable of mimicking and manipulating emotions to appear charming and normal

Secretive: A sociopath doesn't feel the need to share intimate details with others unless it is to manipulate.  (Tax returns & business dealings after American banks stopped loaning him $)

Sexually deviant: Since they lack guilt, remorse, and emotional attachments, sociopaths tend to have affairs and engage in the questionable sexual activity. (Goes Without Saying) 

Sensitive to criticism: Despite their lack of empathy, sociopaths desire the approval of others. They feel entitled to admiration and are quick to anger when criticized.

Impulsive behavior: Sociopaths often live in the moment and will do what they feel is needed to reach their immediate goals. (Twitter rants and policy) 

Compulsive lying: Disregarding the truth to make themselves look better or get what they want.
Needing constant stimulation: Sociopaths often get bored easily and need to be actively engaged.

Addictive Behavior: Their compulsive mindset may result in addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or other addictive behaviors. (Twitter, controlling the narrative

Criminal Behavior: Criminal activity associated with sociopaths could include theft, assault, or destruction of property. (Got In trouble in high school and was sent to military school, and you know, waiting patiently for Mueller)

Isn't it amazing how he meets EVERY SINGLE CRITERIA? Although sociopath is not a DSM diagnosis, it parallels very closely to anti-social disorder which is.  He does meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality too. 

Why does it matter that this label fits?   On a daily basis we see each of these characteristics playing out in destructive ways in our country in hourly breaking news.  Let's begin with the lies.  As of last month, three thousands lies in the last 466 days.  Every politician glosses the truth, but Trump has hit the high of six lies per day, and ones that are easily proven false, yet his followers believe them.  His supporters at the recent Duluth rally were interviewed and believe that the pictures at the border detention center supplied by Trump's own administration are not real.   

It's not only lying, but the constant gaslighting of the American people when things are not going well for him.  As the Russian investigation gets closer and closer to him, he acts out and distracts. This is his brand management style of a reality TV Show Presidency.  When the noose tightens, distract. He changes the narrative and he's exquisitely pathologically good at this. For example, he first began saying there was no Russian collusion which in and of itself is not illegal, but as communication by his team with Russian emissaries was revealed over and over, he began the pivot as did Nixon, that the investigation by his own appointed Justice Department is flawed and conspiracy theories abound. 

This Russian witch hunt currently has 17 indictments, 5 guilty pleas, and one campaign manager currently behind bars because he couldn't stop criminal behavior even with an ankle cuff monitor.  

He will hire only the best people.  

The Russian investigation began not because of a conspiratorial "deep state" but because his own foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, bragged to Australia's British diplomat in a London bar that Russia had dirt on Hilary Clinton.  

He hires only the best people. 

Australian intelligence counterparts then notified our intelligence offices. That is the way ally Intelligence offices work. U.S. Intelligence doesn't work for the benefit of just one narcissistic U.S. President, they work for the safety of the entire country. 

One or two of his very best people happened to already work as pro-Russian agents for countries like the Ukraine and they accidentally forgot to put that on their official work papers and lied to the FBI about it. 

He hires only the best people. 

Back to the sociopathic tendencies.  What matters to him is attention, optics and ratings and most importantly trying to fill a void of self worth that will never be quenched.   


Tony Schwartz is the writer of  "The Art of the Deal," who spent eighteen months daily with Trump. (He massively regrets his role in the writing of this book and creating the persona.)

The real problem, is he doesn't appear to have a soul.  An August 2016 quote about Trump from recently departed Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: "He has a shocking absence of elementary decency and of natural empathy for the most profound of human sorrows, parental grief." 

It's hard to watch our democracy being lead by someone who has no empathy, decency and actively stokes division at every turn. It's a true test of our founding father's framework.   In order to watch the news, I have to balance it and listen to historical scholars who say that our founding fathers envisioned this and our democracy will survive. Jon Meacham is one of them. 

Other than the test of our democracy, the reason I'm so intrigued is that I was fooled too.  I never liked Trump because he was too narcissistic, too sexist and too much.  But I actually thought he could possibly be a legit business person. I was fooled by the gold letters on top of some of his buildings until I learned that those are a licensing facade.  He doesn't own the buildings but rather the right to put his name on it.  He's pathologically good at branding. 

But then I learned the details of his business career: dad's money, bankruptcies, lawsuits, cheating small business owners, failed businesses including Atlantic casinos, which led to American banks no longer loaning him money.  Where did he go for funding to stay afloat? Russian oligarchs and anywhere money could be hidden.  You don't play with dirty money and come out clean.  This is why there is no transparency with his tax returns.   Why does one need a fixer like Michael Cohen if you are running your businesses above board?

His business evolved to reality TV.  And our TV President held court in The Apprentice and that facade made him legitimate to some citizens.  He presided in the big chair on a television set that gave the appearance of a strong businessman who said, "You're Fired" but it was... scripted and directed.   In reality, he cannot handle conflict, and has other people fire whomever has crossed him or he sits behind his unsecured phone and fires by Twitter.  

What blew me away was, with his much touted negotiating skills, and with a Republican House and Senate, he couldn't get his version of healthcare passed because he had no version.  He doesn't read, he doesn't know policy or history,  just catch phrases.  It was truly shocking to me what a poor negotiator he actually is.  He's really good at executive orders in front of the camera though.  He can't roll up his sleeves and do the hard work even though he might have a good point.  (See, I give him that he might have some good instincts!)  He's unable to have the hard conversation with our ally leaders in person to reach a mutually beneficial agreement at a summit. That is what negotiating is about.  That is strength.  

It's sad to see it's about optics and show.   He only shows up for the picture op or a parade in his honor.

Whatever you have to say about Obama and your disagreement with his policies, he met with both parties, had meetings and had hard negotiations to pass healthcare.   He is a Christian, he said Merry Christmas and he was born in Hawaii.  Even though it would be okay if he were Muslim because being Muslim does not mean you are a terrorist.  He sat with parents who had lost grade school children to gun violence and wept with them.  Trump does not have that emotional capability.  He threw paper towel rolls in Puerto Rico from behind a table and it was so symbolic of who he is.  Of course, that U.S. territory is still suffering. 

All of the above mentioned sociopathic tendencies are crippling him and has an affect on our country. 

Most recently, the lack of empathy was on full display with his Zero Tolerance family separation border policy which Stephen Miller crafted and Attorney General Sessions stamped.  He started the fire and then put the fire out.   For a day or so, he did see an opportunity to use these terrorized detained immigrant children as hostages for leverage for his wall but then optics got too bad for him.   He has affected children and families who have been so psychologically scarred and whom may never be reunited with their parents.  As of this morning, he drops Immigration impulsively because the optics are bad at the present moment. 

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I can't even begin with Sessions using the Bible to justify ripping families apart, just like it  was used to support slavery.  At times I actually feel sorry for Sessions whose policies I deplore. He is Trump's whipping boy because he actually did the ethical action of stepping down from overseeing an investigation that included himself.  But Trump is now torturing him unmercifully because mafioso Don was expecting loyalty from "his" man.  (Trump was expecting a Roy Cohn)  Trump's authoritarian stances and dictator love is quite disconcerting.  It wasn't a joke that he wanted "his" people to stand at attention like Kim Jong Un's people as rocket man presides over a murderous military regime. 

He has extreme black and white thinking. (I spot it, I got it too!) You are either all in or on the complete outs with Trump.  For example, he is incapable of nuances.  He doesn't know how to meet Kim Jong Un and not flatter and fawn all over a murderous dictator.  He could meet with him, be courteous and yet hold a hard line.  I thought the two of them might just be so crazy that something good could come of it.  

Then there is the inconsistency of the "law and order" President.  He is waging Presidential war against his own Justice department to cover his own tracks.   Why would someone with so many questionable financial dealings with funding from dirty money run for the highest office in the land?  He brought this level of investigation on himself.  His narcissism tells him he can get away with it.  And Comey helped him win the Presidency!!  I am not missing that irony. 

A simple fact during the campaign was he told the American people he had no dealings with Russia and all along, his business associates were trying to build a Trump Tower there.  He learned to lie this masterfully from Joe McCarthy's lawyer, Roy Cohn when Trump was thirty years old.  He learned  how to double down and repeatedly lie until people think it's the truth.  

This is wearing me out, how about you? 

Who is the Biggest Fake?  

I know many do see the dysfunctional sociopathic characteristics but they see it as strength.  They have craved someone who calls it like they see it.  He's bold, he doesn't care about political correctness.  America First!!    Mixed in with America First are the evangelical leaders and Christians who align with the man who says he has makes no mistakes and never needs to be forgiven.  And well, the sociopathic tendencies...

Jesus would have been all in for America First, right?  Jesus, the olive skinned Jew, who was an immigrant with no home who preached "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Jesus would have been turned away at the border by our current administration.  He was a snowflake in the best way, who said love everyone.   My personal God is the God of all people in the world, not just the American ones.  Trump has co-opted patriotism for his own purposes.  I love America, I love our freedom but I also see that the rest of the world's children (and adults) as God's too.  This includes the brown ones, the Mexican ones, the Muslim ones, females, children, gay, straight, transgender, the tax collector, the Pharisee, the white ones and the male ones. 

My pastor says that we must love our enemies.  I think Jesus did too.  Trump may stoke the fire of divisiveness and indecency day in and day out but I really try not to respond in hate.  I can even tell you how he has helped me!  Trump has helped me accept that I am not in control.  Ha ha!!   And that is an understatement!!  He has taught me to be in the present moment, more than Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra or Jesus could! He has helped me to understand that politics are so very personal and they are so very deeply ingrained.  Do I hate Trump?  He makes me cringe for sure.  I can't listen to him speak and I loathe red hats. I really despise his actions and his rhetoric but I do try to understand him.  That is who I am.  I try to understand who he is and who his followers are.  I think he's pretty miserable that he won.  

For those who understand what I'm writing intimately, take heart.  I truly believe our democracy will survive this President.  Now, I don't think that every day, but on my best day, I do.  It will be ugly for a while still.  The Founding Fathers created our constitutional framework because we were fleeing a King with unlimited power and forced religion. They had this scenario in mind. 

Do you see what I see?

If you don't agree with any of these thoughts, thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!!  We may not see the same things, but I do try to see you, and understand as well.  We both want many of the same things in life, we just have different ways of getting there. 


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Feelings, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa Feelings

In lower and middle school, I took piano lessons.  When I quit lessons, there were just a few remaining songs that I could sit down and play by memory.  "The Rose", "You Light Up My Life" and "Feelings" were the emotional songs that I sat down and belted out every word.  I think there was a Barry Manilow in the repertoire as well, of course! {giggle}

I'm finding the irony of how enamored I was with those heart wrenching sentimental songs and where I am now.  I have come full circle.

Somewhere along the way from childhood on and most especially after a terrible bout of Postpartum Depression, I shut down allowing myself to experience a full range of feelings or what I like to now call by the proper name of energy.  Feelings are just energy, plain and simple.  Society and those persons closest to us, tell us not to cry, not to be angry and ignore the anxiety and Just Do It.  It's both a natural reaction to cry but also it seems to try and stop someone from having an emotional catharsis.  How many times have you seen someone apologize for making someone cry or apologize for crying oneself and then making a joke about it?  It can go to the extreme though, as a good portion of America now numbs itself with compulsions or addictions.  Nowadays, there are more compulsions that you can shake a stick at.  The old standards are still there: alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, cleaning, exercising and newer ones with that have crept in with technology, all so we can avoid ourselves and the emotional energy that naturally comes up in life.  We are turning away from ourselves (and the Divinity within).  And it takes a lot of practice to turn towards oneself again.

For years, I have been listening to a marvelous teacher named Mary O'Malley, a therapist in Washington State.  In interviews, videos, and articles, Ms. O'Malley states that in essence befriending and being curious with the compulsion is the way through, not trying to fight it head on but rather using curiosity and compassion.

Curiosity and compassion towards myself? Are you kidding? How contradictory is this to the message from the diet industry which owns my compulsion:  restrict, and deny yourself through eating.   As then there is the Western mentality of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and white knuckling through whatever. 

I have been missing the curiosity and compassion component for years even though I had heard of it. I had no idea of how to do it.  I figured out I needed to feel my feelings so I started gutting myself through all of them.  I learned that anger is a sign that boundaries are being tread on and so I took different actions with certain people.   I faced anxiety and deep sadness head on.  I cried buckets, and sat with discomfort that I wanted to escape from more than anything.  A true bonus though, was learning that joy was in this mix of energy too.  I began to feel utter joy from simple encounters with my family, friends and nature because when you turn away and numb, you numb everything.

What Ms. O'Malley points out is that we judge our energy (feelings) and that keeps us in the vicious cycle.


I'm screaming this because I need that to sink in as I practice acceptance. 

She describes four kinds of movements in regards to energy.  The first is anger that I'm not getting what I want.  The second is fear and I'm getting what I don't want.  The third is despair/sadness that I will never get what I want.  Lastly, Mary says the glue that holds them all together is judgement.

We want to escape the anger, sadness, fear and we try to think ourselves out of the shame, guilt and whatever else is associated with it.  In my head, I think so very many derogatory thoughts of myself.  Why am I feeling this way, no one else is?  I need to get over this.  I am so pitiful.  What can't I be stronger, etc. etc.  I beat myself up.  Let's just pile it on. That will make things better. NOT.

Ms. O'Malley does a brilliant in depth explanation of the next step and more in her book, The Gift of Our Compulsions, if you are so inclined.  I had a simple event recently that highlighted the act of compassion towards myself.  I know Mary knows what she is talking about but knowing and experiencing the phenomena are two completely different things.  Both of my kids went off in different directions for the first week of summer.  Four years ago on a Sunday,  I watched Mallory drive off on a bus towards camp, a destination 6 hours away for the first time, and I cried uncontrollably.  I couldn't contain it, and I couldn't pull it together to attend church.  Four years later, we were going to church on another Sunday, yet Mallory was already gone to Texas and we were going to be bringing Riley to catch the bus for a weeklong mission trip. As I got dressed that morning, I immediately experienced a strong wave of "I've got to cry" sadness.

And then something brilliant happened if I do say so myself.  In that wave, I immediately accepted the fact that I was going to cry my eyes out and deemed that it was okay.  NO BIG DEAL. I packed up makeup to refresh myself so that I could go to church.  And I went on with my morning and the sad wave of energy passed.

I didn't resist the energy, or judge it.  I know how much I love my girls and I'm watching them grow up and be independent, which I didn't learn until my forties.  Four years ago,  I was probably crying for my own self who was scared of everything and transferring it to Mallory. She was totally fine and excited. But it doesn't matter why I cried.  This time,  I ACCEPTED IT.  My goal here is self acceptance and love.

Energy comes and goes. Learning compassion and curiosity towards myself, opens my heart to those around me and in the world.  It's my new practice.

Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa feelings.  Again in my heart.