Unsurprisingly, many had a variety of emotions related to Friday's Supreme Court decision and overturning of Roe v. Wade. While some rejoiced, others felt waves of anger, rage, helplessness, and even fear. Abortion care is a multilayered and nuanced issue that has implications around race, gender, and class. I'll dig in more to this in another post. Significant news events, such as this decision, trigger strong emotions. For those who are in a place of mourning, I wanted to write something to encourage you on self-care in the aftermath of this historic SCOTUS decision. Here are some tips I've come up with.
Acknowledge and own your emotions, but don't let them control you: I saw many posts on social media about feelings of rage, numbness, unsafe, and helplessness. There were also people posting about their feelings of shock and disbelief that this historic case had been overturned and rolled back a fundamental right that had been the law for nearly 50 years. This was a triggering event, so there are going to be a lot of feelings about this decision. Rather than try to ignore these emotions and press forward as best as you can, acknowledge them and own them. Trying to ignore emotions is denial. I try to recognize emotions as another means of information about myself. Having strong negative emotions is not bad. Rather, they inform us of what we do not like and what we are not comfortable with. Own that these are your feelings and do not feel the need to apologize for your stance, however, do not let these control your behaviors in negative ways. There are people who hold a different opinion and belief on the topic of abortion, however, insulting them out of your anger is not going to get you anywhere. Also, acting in a violent manner will also not serve you. Rather, find productive ways to make a difference.
Focus on what you can do: Tap into those emotions that you are experiencing to find something you can do. This can be looking into ways to support and partner with organizations that reflect your concern. Another practical step is to start researching the candidates and legislation that will be on the upcoming ballot. If abortion care access is something important to you, see if there are ways to support candidates that reflect this belief. If you cannot volunteer with a campaign, donate to these candidates. If finances are tight, at the very least make it a priority to vote in this upcoming election cycle. Also, consider taking time to reach out to your local state and federal representative offices. As abortion care is being relegated to the states, reaching out to your local legislative representative can be a practical step to making your voice heard. Many states offer a tool to help with identifying your representatives by putting in your address. Some may feel more comfortable writing a letter than calling a representative's office. Either is a good mechanism to make your voice heard. Focusing on what you can do to make a difference can alleviate feelings of helplessness and loss of control.
Know who you can be open with on this topic: As I mentioned in my prior post, I recognize the topic of abortion care access is very sensitive and touchy. Oftentimes it helps to talk out strong feelings you are experiencing, but be conscientious about who you turn to when expressing these thoughts and emotions. Some people will be open to talking and share your concerns, while some may take offense to talk about this topic. Be conscientious of the setting you are also bringing this topic up in. Depending on your workplace, some workplaces have more strict rules around bringing up topics that are considered political and controversial.
Take breaks from the news and social media: I highly suspect that this topic will be circulating in the news for weeks, if not months. Try to be intentional about how much information you take in. Repeated exposure to emotionally triggering information can add to feelings of overwhelm and even frustration. Take some intentional time away from scrolling on social media and step away from news updates.
Focus on your happiness: One person I have started working with talks about focusing on maintaining a sense of happiness where they can. When there are triggering news events, it is important to find and focus on what things can bring about some happiness and joy. This is not meant to deny your emotions, rather it is to help with keeping yourself feeling balanced. So if you enjoy gardening, cooking, baking, painting, drawing, singing, cleaning, spending time with family/loved ones, etc.-- DO IT. Whatever that thing is or those things are, make sure you are intentional with having those things in your schedule, as much as you are able. The preservation of your mental health is important, and there's nothing wrong if you desire to feel happy, while you are also feeling other emotions. Believe it or not, we can exist with a multitude of emotions simultaneously.
Pace yourself: If you are like me, you want to figure out what is the fastest way to get this decision reversed. I understand where you are coming from. Remember to pace yourself by taking a balanced approach to finding what you can do and taking care of yourself. Change does not come quickly. Trying to usher in substantial change is a marathon, not a sprint.