Election 2016: Societal influences on pain, fear and self-care


By Dr. Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, RSHom(NA), OIM

Politics is all about relationship.  We, as humans are an interconnected network. As John Donne poetically put it,

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

Merriam-Webster defines politics as “ the total complex of relations between people living in a society.”

Politics is also the art or science of government. As such and as a functional democracy, we hold free elections. We exercise our authority to vote for the person that we feel is best suited to represent our interests and to govern our country.

The outcome of any competition is one who wins and one who doesn’t win.

Acceptance of the outcome is a measure of goodwill, respect for the other’s campaign and, where applicable, a pact to work together to further the goals each has supported. It’s been called good sportsmanship, class. It’s a measure of resilience.

The result of the recent election was met by the people of our country with divisiveness and an expression of fear, anger and pain. Strongly held emotions have a way of being transmitted to others in your network of relationship. We “act out” our anger as pain and others react to that.

As social media reigns as a tool for news going “viral," the epidemic of pain spreads.

According to recent research, pain can spread as a result of social cues alone.  In other words, pain can be contagious. (1)  Robert Kerns, Ph.D., a pain researcher at Yale and former National Director of pain management for the Dept. of Veteran Affairs notes that emotions and social factors can contribute to your experience of pain. 

The pain of the election outcome clearly has engendered pain and it is spreading. Colleges have set up grieving spaces for students to contemplate their pain and loss.

Awareness before anger

Skillful self-care solutions to personal satisfaction and to prevent the spread of this disease have been offered by Jack Kornfield, noted Buddhist psychologist. He offers suggestions for a healthy response to pain and fear. He advises that we establish awareness before it becomes anger. “We can train ourselves to notice the gap between the moments of sense experience and the subsequent response. Because of the particle-like nature of consciousness, we can enter the space between instinct and action, between impulse and reaction. To do so, we must learn to tolerate our pain and fear.” (2) To “sit” with it. The practice of Mindfulness Meditation facilitates non-judgemental awareness and allows for insight to arise.

Likewise, the particle-like nature of nanomedicine, offers a space between delusion and suffering. In the adaptive network system of nanomedicine, we can look up the exact nature of the emotion you are feeling and pro-actively intervene to prevent a maladaptive response to the emotional stressor and to the contagion that might ensue as you spread this feeling around.

One major emotion presented itself for consideration in this instance: fear. Rubrics representing this emotion in the Homeopathic Repertory include: Fear, generalized anxiety; fear, something will happen; fear, anticipation; fear, of misfortune.  The physical symptom that dominated was crying. Taken as a totality of mind/body symptoms, a homeopathic remedy can be prescribed as a first step to self-regulation.

Personal responsibility

The second step of this process that I call the Triumvirate Technique© is where the work begins. Personal responsibility is involved in transformation. In order to transform fear to power, one must begin to understand. We need to understand ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves which maintain the suffering. The Buddha describes this as the two arrows. The first arrow is the initial event, the painful experience.  It has happened and we cannot go back and change it.  The second arrow is the one we shoot into ourselves.  This is optional. It is your choice.  We can add to the initial painful event any response we choose. We can add an angry, fearful, rigid state of mind.  Or we can choose to experience the same painful event with no judgement, no added identification with chaos or drama, with less of an aversive reaction.  We can meet the event with equanimity and a compassionate heart. We can allow and even hold a space for opposites to exist.  We can watch, through skillful means, for the right time to act and to wait, even anticipate with peace, calm and joy.

The way to induce states of peace and happiness is the third step of the Triumvirate Technique©.  Happiness, it turns out, is also contagious.

Emotions such as happiness “ can pulse through social networks”. (3) One study revealed that living within a mile of a happy person increases your chances of becoming happy by 25 percent.” (4). Inducing positive moments creates happiness. Practicing Loving Kindness in meditation and in action builds upward spirals of self-esteem and happiness.

Identifying a sense of purpose and meaning for your life and advancing toward goals predicts happiness as well. Staged demonstrations and protests are one way that people are organizing to have fears heard. A more effective way is to organize peacefully. Select leadership that can communicate your concerns to your elected officials.  Think globally but act locally. Tell your elected officials what you want them to represent. Identify your fears and determine which one really breaks your heart. When you have identified the cause, the issue(s), organize people around it and act immediately in your local community.  In this way your heartbreak, your fear doesn’t live in you, it becomes tangible, actionable. In this way, you and your compatriots become a living force of Loving Kindness and Compassion in Action.  With a nod to inclusivity, Every Man is a Piece of the Continent, A Part of the Main. It’s about relationships, the politics of happiness can become mainstream . And that, my friends, is contagious.


  1. Could Pain Be Contagious, Just Like Happiness? Mercola.com November 03,2016
  2. The Blues is the Truth, Jack Kornfield. Tricycle magazine. Nov. 2016
  3. Could Pain Be Contagious, Just Like Happiness? Mercola.com, November 03, 2016
  4. Ibid





Dr. Nancy Gahles is an integrative and holistic doctor in family practice since 1980. She is owner of Health & Harmony Wellness Center and Spirit of Love~The Rockaway Sangha in Belle Harbor, NY. Dr. Gahles specializes in stress and its role in the cause of dis-ease. Her work developing the Triumvirate Technique© is informed by her experience as a chiropractor, a Certified Classical Homeopath, Certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practitioner, Ordained Interfaith Minister and self-proclaimed Happiness Doctor. Dr. Gahles is a patient advocate and a political activist serving on the Board of Directors of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC). She is President Emerita of the National Center for Homeopathy and serves on the Advisory Council of Homeopaths Without Borders and the Integrative Health Symposium.

She is a published author of The Power of $elfCare: A Common Sense Guide to YOUR Wellness Solution http://amzn.to/16G1hAB  and TEDxTalk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6bZBwl636s  and ebook: Health Investment Portfolios . Dr. Gahles is a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists and Ethical Journalism.