08/20/2012 08:21 am ET Updated Oct 20, 2012

Soul-Talk: Politics -- Is There a Way Past Blame and Upset?

What are you upset about these days? Health care? Government? The economy? Politics? Whatever it is, you can be sure that some politico is going to try and rile you up even more in hopes of wrangling a vote out of you. Make no mistake, no matter which side of the aisle you hope will come out on top in November, each will be playing to your sense of upset.

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," popularized in the movie Network, has a nice ring to it, and we certainly have all kinds of things to be "mad as hell" about these days. While being mad as hell may have made for a nice movie about a television network with crashing ratings, it sadly has become a placeholder for conscious thought about what ails us personally and as a nation.

Our political and social cultures have devolved so far these days that seemingly the only way to get anyone involved with darn near anything is to play the "I'm upset because" card. There's just one small problem with "I'm upset because" thinking: The longer you persist in believing that the source of your upset lies with someone or something else, you will live in a persistent state of upset, ever the victim of someone or something else.

Sooner or later, if you want an improved experience of your own life, you are going to have to surrender to the simple fact that while you may not have chosen your circumstances, you are the one choosing how you respond. You can respond with upset and blame and all you will get from that is more upset and blame. As noted in an earlier article, choosing to remain stuck in blame and upset is tantamount to drinking poison hoping the other person will die.

The Politics of Upset or The Politics of the Heart?

What would happen if we could change our current penchant for blame and upset politics into a more Soul-Centered approach, instead building a culture of well-being and caring for one another? If we persist in choosing to drink the poison of I'm upset because, we will only devolve further into a seemingly-endless pit of blame and angst. Returning to a civil society does not mean we all play nicey-nicey with one another, denying that which is broken or in need of improvement; however, it does mean that we can learn to disagree without becoming even more disagreeable. If we can choose to focus on the improvement side of the equation, we just might find a mutual way forward. If we stay stuck in the politics of blame and upset, we will only get more of the same.

While both de facto presidential candidates proclaim a religious or spiritual reference point in life, neither seems willing or able to let go of attacks on the other side in favor of treating one another as they themselves would wish to be treated. Both claim to honor and respect other people hewing to classic lines of their different but similar Christian faiths, and yet vitriol and personal attacks have become commonplace in what passes for political discourse these days. My optimistic side imagines that if one side or the other were to allow their Soul-Talk to lead, then we just might find a more enlightened way forward, that we just might find a way to truly collaborate on building a better future for all concerned.

Our Self-Talk will naturally lead us into focusing on what is wrong and to add the sense of futility that ever it was and ever it shall be. That's the core nature of our Self-Talk -- one of limitation, self-doubt and glass-is-half-empty thinking. Self-Talk also revels in blame and attack as a way to foster a sense of being better than the other while avoiding any personal response-ability for the difference being sought.

Our Soul-Talk encourages us to return to our heart, to actually live our deeper principles, not as platitudes and moral imperatives but as dynamic realities made manifest in our thoughts, words and deeds. Merriam-Webster tells us that the word encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope. The root word of courage comes from the French word for heart (coeur) and the suffix -age adds the sense of being. What would it be like if we had more courageous leadership out there, people living from their heart? What would it be like if you could live more from your own heart?

At both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, The Huffington Post will again sponsor The Oasis, a sanctuary from the madness where delegates and journalists can take a break from the stress and rigors of political angst. The goal is to help visitors experience ways to "unplug and recharge," to find a moment of balance and centeredness. The Oasis will also feature the soon-to-be-released GPS for the Soul app that can monitor your current state of balance via a heart rate monitor and then offer guides to help you find your way back to center.

Gratitude: The Antidote to Upset

The Oasis will allow visitors to get a sneak preview of how this powerful little app can help them get a read on their current state and how quickly they can return to center. HeartMath, the HuffPost partner in building the sensor used to monitor your heart rate variability, has extensive research showing that by focusing on appreciation or gratitude you can quickly and easily return to a more balanced, centered state of well-being.

Wouldn't it be great if we could influence even a few politicians to focus on appreciation and gratitude during this election season? Can you imagine what it would be like to let go of the "Politics of Upset" and move into a new "Politics of Civil Discourse"? Can you imagine what it would be like to see politicians engaged in reasoned debate about how to take something good and make it even better instead of framing nearly every issue as "the other side has screwed us to the max"?

Can you imagine a "Politics of the Heart"?

Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at)


If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

You can buy Workarounds That Work here.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at You can contact me by email at Russell (at)

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