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A Nation Triggered: Using Powerful Questions to Coach Ourselves in Bi-Partisanship

Updated: Nov 14, 2023


Using Powerful Questions to Coach Ourselves to Bi-Partisanship

It’s official: in the United States we have a new president. Along with it, lots of questions … for me, mostly unanswered questions which bring about uncertainty, triggers my past traumatic events, and my anxiety begins to flare up. I’ve have mostly tried to ignore the coverage, but you almost have to have your head in the sand to not hear some of what is going on.

But every time something gets through my “no news for the moment” safeguards, I find myself asking the same question, “What does this mean for kids in the foster care system?” What does repealing the Affordable Care Act mean for those who just aged out? What does it mean for those covered by Medicaid?

I tell myself not to worry, that everything will work out, but will it? I mean, for the most vulnerable in the county, our children, things haven’t worked out for them so far. They have already lost their bio parents, many have been abused or neglected, and things so far have been downright difficult for them. Now, as an advocate I am trying to convince myself to keep going, but how in these uncertain times?

I heard President Obama’s last address wherein he asked us as citizens to get involved and do something to make a difference. I, like many of you who read this blog, have already heeded this call. We have stepped up in our communities to try and raise awareness and be a voice for those who are silent. But, I now find myself sitting at my desk asking if it is too little too late.

I wonder who is speaking for the children who are trapped in this system, because of the system. Those who upon turning 18 will be living below poverty. Most will become homeless or worse, end up in jail. A large percentage will develop a substance abuse problem, or become teen moms themselves. Who is currently the voice of these children? These children are not a partisan issue to be debated. These are children, who we, as citizens, have promised to take care of, and yet each day it seems we are turning our backs.

Then I paused. In fact, I paused in the middle of writing this blog. Was this even what I wanted to say? I tucked it away for a few days, and reflected. Then a sudden realization … I am not doing the one thing that I ask rooms full of people during training to do. I am not asking a powerful question and I feel completely disempowered.

People recovering from trauma often feel very disempowered or victimized. A feeling I am relating to very much currently. However, one of the quickest ways for us to begin to empower people is to ask powerful questions and then allow them to dictate their own path of healing. It is true that almost everything in the news currently is a statement; there are very few questions and even fewer powerful questions.

I admit it: I am frustrated. I am sick. I am angry, and I am looking for ways in which to carry on in these uncertain times. The only way I know how to do that is through empowerment. So I ask you, regardless of your political viewpoint, where, as a Nation, do we go from here? How do we continue to protect our children, the most vulnerable?

Shenandoah Chefalo is a former foster youth, and advocate. She is the author of the memoir, Garbage Bag Suitcase, and co-founder of Good Harbor Institute an organization focused on translating evidence based research on trauma into skills that can be used immediately by individuals and organizations. You can learn more about her and her work at or

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