I was shocked when Donald Trump won the election. Like millions of others, I was so sure Hillary Clinton would win (although I didn’t vote for her) that I literally could not believe my eyes when I saw the results.
Most of my family and friends were terrified, outraged, disgusted, depressed, even physically ill —they felt like they’d woken up into a bad dream they couldn’t escape.
What I felt was more… unsettled, as if I had no ground to stand on. I understood their fear and outrage, although I couldn’t join with it. But I didn’t have any higher perspective, either.
Yet I knew there must be one. Driven to uncover it, I devoured online essays, thought out loud with wise friends — and threw my hat over the fence: I was scheduled to speak at Unity that Sunday and boldly told them my topic would be “The Higher Perspective on the Election” — without knowing what it was!
That higher perspective arrived just a few hours before I stood in front of the congregation. With joy I walked them through how to literally find the higher perspective on the election, using Michael Beckwith’s model of the 4 Stages of Consciousness (modified):
The First Stage of Consciousness
What I, and my family and friends, didn’t realize about Trump supporters is that they’ve been feeling “terrified, outraged, disgusted, depressed, even physically ill— like they’d woken up into a bad dream they couldn’t escape” for YEARS.
Their once secure, good-paying jobs have disappeared; their values of hard work, traditional family, and Christian faith are ridiculed by liberal media and Hollywood; the recession pounded them, but all the recovery $ went to the cities; they can’t afford to send their kids to college, or to move to areas with more opportunities; their whole way of life is disappearing. They’ve spent the last 8 years watching terrifying nightly news reports about ISIS, mass shootings, and Black people rioting. They look out their front doors and see closed factories and painkiller addicts. They believe nobody in Washington could care less about them — and they are absolutely right.
“To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. ‘Are you assholes listening now?’“ [See How Half of American Lost Its F**cking Mind]
Most of all, we didn’t realize that most Trump voters voted for him DESPITE the fact that he said and believes hateful things, not because of it. They voted for him for much the same reasons I wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders: a sense that the system is fundamentally broken, and that Hillary Clinton would have been more of the same.
When we’re responding to life from this stage of consciousness — feeling victimized by outside events and helpless to change them — we channel our anger and grief and powerlessness into blaming and shaming others (and ourselves).
My beloved daughter demonstrated this dynamic the day after the election.
She was furious: “Those selfish Bernie supporters, ‘Never Clinton’— they didn’t vote! Or they voted for third party candidates! THIS IS THEIR FAULT!!” (I did not find the courage to tell her I’d done just that — ‘protest-voted’ for Jill Stein. At least I wasn’t in a swing state…)
But her rage soon turned inward, to blaming and shaming herself: “I should have made calls to get out the vote, like I did for Obama; I should have done more, I was complacent. I feel terrible…”
A few more examples of the epidemic of post-election Victim consciousness: Hilary supporters blame sexism & angry white men for her defeat; Hillary herself reportedly blames FBI director James Comey; Al Franken reportedly blames Obamacare among other things. I won’t even go into the hate-filled gloating from some in the Trump camp, now that they finally won…
This blaming-and-shaming Victim consciousness feels terrible (although it can also give us a rush of righteous indignation).
Even worse, it creates a cycle of powerlessness. The only thing we can think to do when we feel powerless is turn around and retaliate against the nearest likely target — which creates more victims — or sink into apathy and depression.
And of course the Victim mentality happens not only on a personal level, but also on the level of nations, where it causes massive damage. Seeking out & destroying our “enemies” may look like the best solution, but actually it creates an increasingly dangerous world.
Example: The 15 year US ‘War on Terror’ that began with the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq after 9-11 (when Americans understandably felt victimized) has led to far more terrorists, expanded war and chaos in the Middle East, ISIL, ISIS, huge numbers of refugees, and the backlash against them. Not to mention 5 times MORE terrorism incidents in the US (118 in the 15 years since 9-11, versus 23 in the 15 years before it.)
The cycle of powerlessness and retaliation keeps spreading. In fact it seems that the more we fight our ‘enemies’, the more we get of what we DON’T want: See the War on Drugs, the War on Cancer, the War on Poverty.… As C.G. Jung said, “What you resist, persists.”
How do we get out of this nightmare?
Could it be that it’s “fighting” and identifying “enemies” that’s the problem?
Even if our battles are only rhetorical, whenever we perceive somebody or something as ‘other’ there is FEAR. (We’re all born into a tribal mentality where ‘others’ = not us = potential enemies.) Our fear drives us to do and say hateful things which only make matters worse.
So, notwithstanding that we may be fully justified in blaming others for our current situation, there comes a time when we must realize that as long as we’re in blame-shame Victim mode, we are giving away our true power and limiting our ability to make the changes that are truly needed.
As we give up blaming and shaming others (and ourselves!), something new becomes possible: we start feeling empowered to actively create the path we desire and need to be on.
This opens us up to the next stage of consciousness:
The Second Stage of Consciousness
Initially, as we embrace the Agent level of consciousness, we feel stretched or challenged by our circumstances. Yet these challenges are exactly what is needed for us to step up to be the agent of positive change in our lives.
It is only by moving through challenges that we get to discover we are capable of far more than we realized. We are not helpless victims of circumstance, but powerful creators of it! We use tools like affirmations and affirmative prayer, visualization and vision boards, and planning and positive thinking to conceive and believe in the life we desire and take steps toward it. Breakthroughs in this stage usually require focused, determined, courageous action. They leave us with a sense of personal accomplishment, “I did it! I am powerful!”
Some people who initially responded to the election from the Victim stage of consciousness are already moving into the Agent stage — picking themselves up and and starting to take positive action to create the change they wish to see.
For example, soon after the election a group of women organized a Women’s March on Washington for the day of the Trump Inauguration. As one of the organizers explained, their intention is not blaming or shaming, but focusing collective attention: “The march is not a protest against Trump or the legitimacy of the election, but to shed light on women’s issues, including sexual assault and workplace discrimination.”
Moving from blame to positive action — taking charge of our mental, emotional and physical responses to a challenge — gives us a feeling of being in control, which feels so much better than the Victim stage’s helplessness.
We can respond to the election from the Agent stage of consciousness by individually and collectively taking action, such as marching or signing petitions. (Caveat: we must be very careful to do this without blaming or shaming — or we’re right back in Victim consciousness where our actions do more harm than good.)
Agent-level consciousness also helps us have more productive conversations with loved ones whose political views differ from ours. Instead of getting into heated arguments (or shutting down and avoiding “those morons”), something new is possible: we can start noticing when we are blaming and shaming them.
How can we tell we’re doing it? It’s easy: they get defensive. Anytime someone is defensive (angry, justifying, talking too much, not listening) they ARE feeling attacked. It does not matter if we didn’t mean to blame or attack, or don’t think we did, or don’t think they should feel attacked — the point is just to notice that the other person is defensive.
Once we notice that, we access the Agent’s power to step out of the Victim cycle of powerlessness. (Hallelujah!) We can help everyone relax and lighten up right away — by apologizing: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel attacked. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” (You can also say this to yourself when you blame, shame or guilt-trip yourself. It really helps!)
As we keep practicing the tools of the Agent stage, we emerge with a sense of personal ownership of the amazing life we create, earn, cause, and achieve. This is a powerful stage on our path.
However… as long as we cling to the need to be in control, we keep discovering how limited and illusory our control is. We see this when, despite our affirmations and focused actions, something “bad” happens; or when our attempts to control a situation or person FAIL in the long run. After all, we can’t even fully control ourselves — “willpower” is notoriously weak.
Ultimately, we come to realize that our efforts to be the sole generator and controller of all outcomes can only get us so far. We just aren’t wise enough to plan out everything that needs to happen to create the results we desire, and we don’t have the power to force things to go according to plan!
When we accept that our efforts to be powerful and in control are ultimately futile, we move into the next stage of consciousness:
The Third Stage of Consciousness
In this stage we open ourselves up to the unknown, to what lies beyond our ordinary conscious awareness. As we do, we discover a new trust and connection to the higher power and greater truth ready to flow through us.
When we approach the election of President Donald Trump from the Vessel stage of consciousness, we get interested in what we don’t know. How can we understand the perspective of those we disagree with, disapprove of, and dislike?
Even if the person we face IS a misogynist or bigot, we ask, “Is this who they are, really?” We ask what confluence of circumstances — social, economic, biographical — could have brought them there. We seek to realize that if we too had the same circumstances (and level of consciousness) we would say and do as they do.
Here’s an exercise in applying Vessel consciousness:
Think of someone you disagree with, disapprove of, dislike, fear.…
Imagine this person in front of you.
Can you imagine him or her as a child? See that child in your mind’s eye.
Ask yourself: “what could have happened to turn that child into the adult you see today?”
What do you have in common? (If you don’t know — are you willing to find out?)
Now ask yourself, “What would it be like if I resisted your harmful actions, but see you as a human being?”
Allow images, ideas or emotions to arise.
Then consider that this person, like you, has foibles, weaknesses, blind spots, and frailties; old pains and sorrows; struggles, and good qualities; and a deep need to love and be loved. Ask yourself, “is it possible for me to embrace you as a fellow human being, someone like me?”
Finally, consider the idea that this person is in your life to teach you something important. How might they be a teacher for you? What might the lesson be? [See “Donald Trump: Your Spiritual Teacher in Disguise”]
With questions like these, we start letting go of the belief that we are separate from others and have a right to judge and condemn them. (Letting go of this in no way stops us from protesting or preventing their harmful actions.)
As we do, we begin to open up to the greater powers of life flowing through us. We come to understand that we are ALL children of God/the Universe: no one is better or less than anyone else, and we ALL have the capability of doing terrible things when we are terrified. This underscores what FDR said: the only thing we have to fear is FEAR itself.
Sometimes the Vessel experience of THROUGH ME comes as a graceful extension of our personal growth. And sometimes it arrives more abruptly and painfully, as we reach the limit of our understanding and skills and have no choice but to SURRENDER, opening ourselves up to be conduits or instruments of higher energetic forces within us.
The election of Donald Trump feels like that limit that for many. His victory provoked shock and incredulity — did you, like me, find yourself saying “I can’t believe this is happening!”?
This election seems like such a seismic shift because it embodies and represents the dissolution of the old order. That dissolution began long before election night, and will continue (and probably intensify) long after. Why? Because we the people of this nation and world no longer trust the institutions and received wisdom that got us here.
Charles Eisenstein expresses Vessel consciousness when he writes:
“We live in a civilization that has robbed nearly all of us of deep community, intimate connection with nature, unconditional love, freedom to explore the kingdom of childhood, and so much more.
The acute trauma endured by people who are incarcerated, abused, raped, trafficked, starved, murdered, and dispossessed does not exempt the perpetrators. They feel it in mirror image, adding damage to their souls atop the damage that compels them to violence.
That’s why suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S. military. That’s why addiction is rampant among the police. That’s why depression is epidemic in the upper middle class… We are all in this together. One earth, one tribe, one people.”
In this chaotic time, we have a tremendous opportunity to move together into that higher perspective of Who We Are. When we’re comfortable, we don’t change. Maybe Trump is here to make us UNcomfortable, and wake us up from very deep (and destructive) illusions. Who knows, the election of Donald Trump may be exactly what’s needed to catalyze our collective shift in consciousness!
However, this will happen only if we meet the collective energy of fear and hatred (and the totalitarian nightmares it engenders) with an even stronger power. Can you guess what it is?
Every day we have the choice to respond from fear and blame (Victim consciousness) or love and acceptance (Vessel and Oneness consciousness). Choose: keep going it alone and mask all symptoms of distress? Or get to the root of our problems and work together to solve them? Separation, or Unity? Illusion, or Reality?
Fortunately, we get lots of chances to practice being the change we want to see…!
As we accept ourselves and cultivate inner peace, love and compassion, it becomes much easier to feel that toward others, and free ourselves from Victim consciousness.
We must understand that our own inner practice of love and peace — a surrender that feels to the ego like defeat — is the single largest contribution we can make to peace and higher consciousness in our families, workplaces, nation and world.
This does NOT mean withdrawing. It means actively not giving in to social pressure to hate “the deplorables”. It means engaging in confrontations with our hearts open, connecting to the hurt and scared child in the person we’re facing, and their beautiful soul. It means speaking hard truths with compassion and love, so that they may be heard. It means being what Charles Eisenstein calls “an eye of compassion inside the political hate vortex”.
When we can do this and be this, we tap into an inexhaustible flow of higher wisdom and creativity to engage in new ways, transform challenging situations, and overcome “impossible” odds.
Why? Because in so doing, we give up our ego and its story of separation. And we simultaneously discover the highest perspective: that we are One with the infinite creative force of the universe, which is expressing and experiencing itself ‘As Me’. (It is also expressing and experiencing itself as all Life, and all forms, everywhere.) We are One with All of It.
The 4th stage of consciousness:
I’m going to end with a quote from psychic Danielle Agnew, who blogged about Why Donald Trump is the Best Thing to Ever Happen to the USA:
“I’d like to sincerely thank Donald Trump for so diligently playing his role in the polarization process that ends up assisting in the Ascension of Consciousness for a kinder and gentler America. We couldn’t have done it without you, Donald. After all, we can’t clean the counters if we never move the cookie jar to see that they’re dirty.
The key to the healing that the United States seeks within the hearts of its population is in finding our own voices, without the anger, the desperation, or the need to marginalize another — in order to find room to talk. [And, I would add, listen to one another.]
That is the liberation of America.”