Donald Trump is completely in my head. But not in the way you might think. Let me explain.
About a year ago I was having trouble sleeping. Not falling to sleep. Generally that wasn’t a problem. My problem would come in the middle of the night when either my son woke me up, or I had to pee or something and I woke up just enough for a thought to creep in and take hold. That thought would take hold. It would lead to another, which would lead to another. and suddenly I was too awake and engaged with my own thoughts to go back to sleep.
I’m sure this experience is not unique to me. Millions of people every night have this exact same experience.
Here’s how I decided to deal with it.
I started meditating.
I’d been curious about this, but didn’t really know how to do it, or where to go to learn that didn’t involve Prudence Farrow and my manager dying unexpectedly. So, I found a couple of guided meditation CDs and a great app called Headspace. I’ve become a bit of a zealot about it. Recommending it to everyone I know regardless of their particular ailment. I try not to be that guy. But, sometimes I am a bit.
That’s not what this is, though. Don’t worry. I’m going to get back to Donald Trump.
So, here’s the thing with meditation. So much of it, at least at the beginning, is about accepting those thoughts that either gently try to get your attention (I think I need gas when I go out) or try to violently impose themselves upon your world view or your view of your self (I’m a failure at my job. I’m powerless to change my life. Why do people hate me? Man, I’m awesome at everything!). Accepting them and then letting them go.
You can’t control your thoughts. You can’t stop them. They’re going to come, but you’re not really the one making them come. The only thing you can control is how you respond to them.
The impact all of these thoughts have is completely up to you. So, through meditation, if you can learn to look at those thoughts and say, “Oh, look at you. Aren’t you cute, trying to be all helpful like that? Thanks for stopping by.” then those thought float on through and you can go on about your business, or in my case go back to sleep.
And it’s been a huge help.
So, Donald Trump.
As we got into the last Republican debate last week, I made the point to a friend that if I were one of the other people on stage with him, I’d just ignore him. Attacking him doesn’t work. It only makes him stronger and people seem more interested in him and what he’s doing. But, if anytime a question was asked about Trump, Jeb! decided to talk about something else, if anytime Trump attacked Ted Cruz, Cruz ignored the attack and instead starting talking his own brand of crazy, if anytime Trump mentioned Chris Christie, Christie just looked the other way and talked about something he cared about, the power Trump has goes away.
Trump is a dumpster fire that requires fuel.
And it’s tempting to give him that fuel, because he’s entertaining.
And that’s how he’s exactly like those thoughts that keep you up at night.
He’s going to keep talking, just like those thoughts are going to keep trying to get your attention. We’re not making him talk and we can’t stop him from talking. But we can give him all the attention he deserves:
“Oh, look at you. Aren’t you cute, trying to be all helpful like that? Thanks for stopping by.”
My thoughts require my attention to gain traction and disrupt what I’m doing. And so does Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is in my head because he is my thoughts and my thoughts are Donald Trump.
The comfort and clarity this has provided in both my sleep cycle and my attention and focus on this presidential race is without measure.
I will now return my focus to my breath.