debate trauma


lisa fabrega


I didn’t watch the US presidential debates a few weeks ago. On purpose. And if you’ve been trying to preserve your mental health during a pandemic and/or you’re recovering your nervous system from trauma, burnout or exhaustion…it’s okay if you didn’t watch, too.

This isn’t about politics. It’s also not about bypassing what’s happening.  Nor is it about turning a blind eye and checking out. The world needs us all paying attention and ready to fight for our fellow humans. You do need to know what’s going on in the world. You do need to inform yourself of the value systems of people vying for leadership of your country. 

What I’m talking about here is not getting hooked into abusive media spectacles so you preserve your nervous system for more important fights ahead. 

It’s about reclaiming your Sovereignty on a daily basis so oppressive systems don’t rob you of your capacity. This is why Sovereignty is one of the Pillars of Capacity. When you have sovereignty, you have capacity to do more of your good work in the world and impact more people in a positive way.

I know all I need to know already about who 45 really is. I lived in the New York area for many years, so I knew about him and his abusive, psychopathic, malignant narcissist ways over a decade ago. I don’t need to expose myself to MORE of his abuse through the television screen. 

Also as a former child who grew up around an adult on the narcissism spectrum, I’ve worked hard for my nervous system to move away from abuse dynamics. Boundary Capacity has allowed me to set hard boundaries with myself about what I will and won’t expose my nervous system to, so I can serve at my highest when I show up for my community.

When this debate was announced, I already knew exactly what was going to happen. Naomi Wolf gave an excellent talk back in 2016 about how the media purposely creates shock/drama events to hook people’s adrenaline and fear into their media cycle and skyrocket their ratings.

It keeps you adrenaline-revved just like thriller movies give you that “can’t pull my eyes away from the screen cause I have to find out what happens next” feeling. That can feel addictive When they hook you this way, their ratings stay high while they push all your adrenal buttons. That’s why you feel burned out, exhausted and emotionally disconnected from your body after watching or reading the news. 

On social media, I saw many get hooked into the debate outrage and all the abusive garbage being spewed. Emotionally triggered and posting relentlessly on social in real time, they raged over every sentence he said. 

Except, when you repeat a narcissistic abuser’s words to “showcase” your outrage on social media, it spreads the abuse to your circles of people by proxy. His words and abusive acts are still being given air time. The best way to defeat narcissists is to stop playing into their dynamics entirely. Not to give them a pulpit. 

These social media posts showcasing disgust can rev up the outrage and triggers of those reading and the comments then affirm the outrage. Anyone scrolling past this on their timeline is re-traumatized or hooked, too.

Then the next day after the drama-spectacle event, there’s the relentless media storm of a million opinion articles breaking down every single abusive thing he said. Reading these articles, you relive the abuse yourself. Your adrenaline and nervous system is STILL being revved up by bathing in the aftermath of the event. And then everyone is posting their day-after outrage on social media all over again.

Do you see the vicious cycle you get tricked into participating in? Did you happen to get hooked into it? Do you see how you’re being used by people who don’t give a damn about you and only care about their profits and ratings?

I hope this helps you see more clearly. Because I share this with you not to judge or criticize if you did watch and get hooked. I share it with you because I teach capacity

Sovereignty, the ability to manage one’s self and trust in our instincts, is one of the four main pillars for building capacity. I want you to CLEARLY see the ways forces outside of you try to rob you of that sovereignty by controlling your nervous system without your conscious consent.

The new world we’re in since March of 2020, NEEDS leaders with capacity. This pandemic isn’t over. The unrest just starting to crest over human rights abuses ignored far too long, isn’t over. It’s critical to build your capacity NOW, so you show up as a powerful beacon during these times.

They purposely try to keep your sacred attention on their latest outrageous statement to distract you from more important issues. Like getting justice for Breonna Taylor, ending police brutality, closing down the border camps or demanding reparations for Black and Indigenous people.

How can you lead your business and your community from a hacked nervous system? You can’t. Being constantly hypnotized into this state by the drama-spectacles chips away at your capacity. You can become reactive and irrational. Paranoid. Always anxious.

This is how leaders get sucked into QAnon theory and lose all critical thinking abilities. And then they post triggered, ungrounded content in their communities, who then get triggered and ungrounded themselves and spread it out to their communities. 

Your sovereignty, your energetic state and your capacity matters more than ever. People are looking for calm, grounded leaders they can trust. Not leaders who perform capacity. Leaders with actual capacity equilibrium.

One of the best explanations I’ve read about narcissists and abuse dynamics went like this: the dynamic of narcissism & abuse is like a black hole. It’s never satisfied. It lives off the light and life force of the empathic. When they’re done sucking the life force out of you, they move on to the next person. And on and on. 

Don’t let manufactured faux-drama events suck the life force out of you. We need your life force to be whole and intact, preserved and healthy. If you’re drained from watching the debates and feeling fearful, how do you think you’re showing up energetically for your marketing the next day? Sales calls? Clients? Not well, let’s put it that way.

You have control over what you allow into your sphere of capacity and how you care for yourself through setting energetic boundaries. Just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean you need to subject yourself to it. I’d say the same for any business fad “everyone’s doing”, too. 

The night of the debate I did some writing, watched a funny comedy stand up show and gave myself a good leg massage with my favorite magnesium, lavender-scented coconut butter lotion. And I had a nice long, restful sleep. 

Resourced. Grounded. Nourished. Ready to pick up one of the many torches for a better world for all. And that requires immense capacity.

I’m not judging you if you watched. And I’m not available for comments defending your choice to watch. I’m simply presenting a perspective that allows you to ask yourself some deeper questions which may be helpful to you in expanding your sovereignty and capacity as a leader. Everyone makes the choices which feel best for them! That’s sovereignty in action, too.