Why “getting over it” doesn’t work.

I’ve seen lots of posts lately, especially on Facebook, about “raising the vibration,” choosing love, letting go of hate and fear…. The list goes on, referencing the election and general state of the world and even things like depression.  These quotes have me thinking that holiday blues or indignation about the election are somehow personal failings.   They are very well-intentioned, spiritual-sounding posts from excellent people, many of whom I admire and am happy to call my friends and colleagues…


I’ve seen complex PTSD in many forms over the years and it’s called complex for a reason.  In shamanic work, I’ve encountered soul injury, past-life karma and trauma, and all manner of weird things that any normal human being couldn’t “get over” by making a simple choice. I’ve suffered depression and panic attacks myself and honestly felt shamed by some of the posts above, as though somehow I should know better than to let my vibration sink.  (My friend, Naina, calls this “enlightenment shaming,” and reminds me that Jesus or the Dalai Lama probably wouldn’t tell me, or anyone who was truly in pain, to raise their vibration.)

Likewise, the state of our world is incredibly complicated.  There are layers upon layers of distortion and disconnection currently up for review by our collective, centuries of colonialism, patriarchy, misogyny, racism, and injustice that have left their mark on all of us. Our personal shadows are intertwined with social phenomena. Laws get rewritten, old structures – and sometimes the actual buildings that go with them – crumble, potentially creating new levels of trauma.

We can’t just move on because someone posted a catchy phrase.  I have yet to get over anything just because someone told me to, like “OH!  Right.  Thanks, I feel much better now.”  Have you?

I wonder if perhaps sometimes people are uncomfortable with difficult emotions and are actually asking me, in code, to stop feeling what I’m feeling so that they can feel better.  I admit, I’ve done this, too.

Because I’m a healer and have never been one to just give up – for better or worse – I believe that things can be different, that we can shift into a happier and healthier state both individually and collectively.  I totally agree that we need to choose love, wholeness, community, integrity, and courage. I’ve seen amazing things happen, complete transformations and gorgeous resilience within my own life and as part of a support team for other people.  I absolutely 100% in my bones believe in our power to be more healthy, loving, and joyful. I also wish that process was as pithy as a bumper sticker, and I hope that no one else feels shamed the way that I did when the catch phrase and the inner reality didn’t line up.

So let’s make this conversation a little richer.  First and foremost, do you believe that change is possible?  Deep down, do you even want it?  Because the truth is, you don’t have to.

Then, how do we choose love instead of fear: what does that process look like?  What would it change in the course of daily choices and interactions?  What if it meant that old habits and perspectives had to be released?

What are the fears that you’re relinquishing in favor of love?  Have you spent time exploring your triggers and shadows with compassion or scientific curiosity so that you can know exactly how to let them go?  What steps do we take in real time to move past what harms us? If we are outgrowing old structures, how do we build new ones that are inclusive and intelligent?  What part do you play in this new paradigm? How can your unique brilliance serve the greater good?

These stand to be much harder, open-ended questions and they require some work, which perhaps is why the bumper stickers are easier.  So I get it.  It’s really tempting to keep it pithy. But for me these questions are also the whole point of being alive, walking around here on this planet at this time in history.  We were born for these questions.

We can do this.  We can help each other.  I believe in this, in us, in you and your perfect vibration.

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