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Politics And Pain

Politics And Pain

NOVEMBER 16, 2016

I’m seeing more grief from this election then I’ve seen in previous elections.

Although I’ve never been very active in a political campaign, I do pay attention and alway vote. I thought we would never elect a president who said hateful things in public about woman and minorities. Yes, I know some people talk like that, but I hold leaders to a higher standard and I never thought he could get elected. And so I grieved and felt that suddenly the world I live in had changed. How can we act as if everything is fine? How can we go about our lives now?

I’m hearing of teachers crying at school. Nurses refusing to read or watch any more news. Political activists withdrawing and staying home with feelings of betrayal and despair. Professionals hiding in their offices, wondering, “Am I the only one who is upset today?” And protests in many cities.

Others saying, “why are they so upset?”

This outcome has divided us in ways my generation has not experienced before. There is fear and confusion. So what do we do now?

  1. Withdrawing from painful things is sometimes necessary and healthy, but for a limited time. Deciding to spend some time alone is fine and works best if you communicate with others about when you will be back. When you’re ready, spend time with people who love and support you. Reach out. Make a phone call. You are not as alone as you feel.
  2. Do some research. I’ve found that learning the facts, the demographics, the background on the story is helpful in lifting my feelings of sadness. My “thinking brain” comforts my “feeling brain”.
  3. Accept what you cannot change. But be clear about what that is. You can change many things. You can do small things with great love.
  4. Look for things that will make a positive difference in your world. It may take a while to figure out how you can make an impact in your community but there are more tasks than people to do them. Your community needs you.
  5. Get to know the “other side”. Its easy to be insulated from others who have a different political opinion or lifestyle or culture than you do. I found that I had no idea why someone would vote for Trump. Once he won, I assumed that they just didnt care about what I care about. But this can’t be entirely true. We are all human beings with similar needs and psychological processes. I needed to listen to their stories, ideas, frustrations if I was to begin to understand.
  6. Remember that the pendulum swings both ways. Everything changes. Pressure builds on the other side and the tide swings back.
  7. Watch out for those automatic bad habits. You may find yourself drinking too much, numbing out by spending more money, and finding other destructive ways to escape.
  8. Increase your positive self care activities. We all need some time to heal, breathe, rest. Make a list of those things that help you feel restored, and do some of them!
  9. Call and get professional help if you need it. Natural disasters, political defeats, and community traumas can trigger depression and anxiety. If you were just holding it together coping with your already stressful life, an event like this can be too much to handle on your own. Resources are available. You don’t have to manage it alone.

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