An Open Letter to Donald Trump

I know that explaining things to you in writing is a really long shot because you don’t like to read, but as someone once said, what have I got to lose? I also know that changing behaviors that have been ingrained since childhood is extremely difficult. However, throughout my 48-year career in mental health, I have seen numerous people make changes they didn’t think possible. I’m sure you can change if you really try.

You called yourself a cheerleader to justify why you lied about the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic back in January and February. Being positive and encouraging to people facing a disaster is a good thing. You just misunderstood the difference between encouragement and denial of danger. People facing danger need to know the truth. They need accurate information about what is coming, no matter how bad that may be, and they need encouragement that they can get through the crisis. Telling people there is no danger or that you have it under control when you don’t does not help them prepare and undermines trust in you. Remember, courage is not acting without fear; courage is acting in spite of fear.

I think you are very insecure. That’s clear from the way you continually seek praise, appreciation and loyalty, bully people and react reflexively and aggressively to anyone not totally sycophantic. If you would practice saying reassuring things to yourself rather than needing others to say them to you, you would feel much better.

When you hear something that seems negative or critical, just listen to it as information, decide if it is accurate, and learn what you can from it. If the comment is wrong, you have nothing to be upset about. Why should you be upset if someone else makes a mistake? If the criticism is accurate, you still have no reason to feel overwhelmed. Just acknowledge your error and take whatever steps you can to correct it. Don’t expect to be perfect. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you don’t continually repeat the same one.

If you react almost instantly to criticism with anger or fear, relax your stomach and take a slow, deep breath. Arguments cannot be answered with insults. Try to avoid being judgmental or defensive. Ask for more specific information, especially when the criticism is vague & insulting. Practice relaxation and mentally rehearse calm responses ahead of time.

Whether your critic is right or wrong, find some way to agree with the person. If the critic is primarily right, thank the person for their feedback, admit your error or fault, and apologize, if appropriate. If you think the person is unfair or wrong in their criticism, agree in principle or find some grain of truth to agree with. Avoid sarcasm or defensiveness. If you think the critic is wrong, be objective & acknowledge you might be wrong. Keep the conflict focused on fact rather than personality or pride. Remember, the other person’s error does not make him or her stupid, worthless or inferior. Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. If the critic is right, the person’s respect for you probably will jump tremendously if you agree with the criticism, thank the person for providing you with the information, and apologize for any hurt you might have caused.

I know these suggestions feel completely appalling to you because they go against a lifetime of ingrained reactions. You will probably need a licensed therapist to help you make changes. However, becoming mentally healthy and emotionally stable will expand your base of support beyond those authoritarian followers who a drawn to a belligerent tyrant.

Based on how frequently you lie and use self-aggrandizing statements, you will undoubtedly feel extremely uncomfortable with accuracy and admission of imperfection. Remember that truly self-confident people do not proclaim perfection or infallibility. Those are traits of insecure people.

You were almost certainly emotionally abused as a child by your father. It will be very difficult, but you must learn to see him as a flawed parent and man. No matter how financially successful he may have been, he taught you to see the world as overly dangerous and everyone in it as a potential enemy. He taught you to “kill or be killed.” Anytime you feel attacked, which is often because of your exaggerated sense of vulnerability, you react automatically by viscously counterattacking with insults, slurs, mockery, humiliation, and contempt. You seem unable to control or even moderate these reactions. That indicates a person who remains insecure no matter how much success is achieved. It’s time to become more confident and less defensive.

These dysfunctional character traits have caused enormous harm to our country since you acquired the presidency. However, they are of much greater concern now we are in the COVID-19 pandemic. Flawed and inadequate leadership is now costing American lives. If you had followed the example of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, by taking rapid, decisive national action, our infection and death rate would be much lower. National mitigation efforts, including distancing rules, restriction of travel, business closures, procurement and distribution of protective gear and medical equipment, health and unemployment insurance coverage, and testing, should have been implemented very early in the crisis rather than minimizing the danger and then requiring states to act independently and competitively. Decisive action would have been risky and subject to criticism, but it would have been courageous.

You have excellent medical experts and past pandemic planning on which to base decisions. You must learn to overcome your inherent insecurity and sole focus on what you think will benefit your popularity and re-election. Put the welfare of the nation before your own. That would elicit the praise and appreciation you crave.

5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Donald Trump

  1. Bob This is your absolute best. Loved every word and especially the last line. You nailed him. (Irony for Easter?). So proud I get to be your friend Patty

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. What if he were abused by his mother? What’s that manifest like? Is my response to Trump reaction formation? Your guidance was solid, helpful. Like I need.

    Like

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