It’s the morning after one of the most divisive and painful presidential election cycles. I opened my social media newsfeed to read words of anger, disappointment, disgust and for some, celebration and a sigh of relief. This post is not about discussing the possibility of an apocalyptic Donald Trump presidency nor is it about white privilege, how Bernie should have been the democratic nominee, the sleeping giant of Conservative America, or making America great again. This post is about helping you cope, no matter what your political affiliation or voting record, in the aftermath of a real, ideological struggle.
In my short career as a psychologist, it never ceases to amaze me the power that one individual can have on another. We are, after all, relational beings. We allow ourselves to be impacted by another’s experience and presence. I have definitely been affected by my work with the clients that I see. I allow myself to participate in their unique story and value their willingness to “show up” – raw, vulnerable, and unsure of where we might be heading. I see this experience as a foil for what many might be experiencing on this day in which we do not know what the future will hold. The reality is – no one has a crystal ball or will be able to foresee what will happen.
This leads me to my first coping skill: Mindfulness. Take a deep breathe, notice that you are breathing, allow yourself to be present with your breathe. Be present. What we have is right now. The next moment may be different – and that’s okay. Which leads me to skill number two: Non-judgment. This is much more difficult. We often may be inclined to judge our feelings, our reactions, or even the thoughts and feelings of others. Imagine a world in which you were gentle to yourself, in which you were able to merely exist without expectation of “the should’s” and without the regret of the past. Be gentle with yourself today and everyday- let go of the judgement of yourself and see if we might let go of the judgement of others. This is the pathway to experiencing something new.
The outcome of the election may be final, but the direction where we, a nation of individuals, is never set in stone. The way we treat one another is less of a product of our laws and legislation but rather a reflection of our personal moral fiber and our authentic, personal values. Which leads to me to my final coping skill: Willingness. Each time that I and my client’s choose to “show up” and be vulnerable are the moments in which change, insight, and self reflection are accessible. These are also the moments where my both my clients and myself are able to experience growth fostering connection. That is what is possible through the power of relationships. So here is the challenge: approach each and every moment with “willingness” – be open to your whole experience, without judgement, while also actively and intentionally choosing to move in a valued life direction. Show up in every moment of every day with intention.
How we as individuals act in this world does affect those that we encounter. If we are open to engage with each other, to be impacted, to allow ourselves to truly connect – then we can have faith and hope in one another. At the end of the day it’s these little things: the moments, the connection, the encounters, the smiles and hugs, the laughs and tears, that truly matter.