How to Move on After the Election: Using Skills to Minimize Suffering
Today is November 10th, two days after the election. Along with most other Hillary supporters, I’m shaken.
I gave myself one day to wallow and grieve, and now begins my process of moving on. For those of you who feel like I do, it’s time for us to flip the narrative. We must shift our perspectives so that we don’t carry around the hurt, anger, pain, and fear. Reality is how we see things, and we have the power to control it even when we cannot control much else.
For months, like many others, I have been glued to the drama surrounding this election. In my mind, Trump (now, President-elect Trump… eeek) stood against so many of the values that I hold dear—women’s rights, reproductive rights, equality, acceptance, empowerment, mobility, etc. Because of these beliefs, it felt like the world would be over if he were to win. Many of us even joked about the apocalypse coming. Well, now we are here. And that way of thinking will only keep us stuck.
So, what do we do?
We shift our perspectives by reframing from, “We are all doomed,” to something more balanced and accurate, such as: “Some things may change for the worse, and some things may change for the better. Most things will probably stay the same in the near term. No matter what, we will be OK because we will continue to fight for what’s right.” By consciously making this shift in our thinking, we open up our worlds and minds. We begin to minimize our own suffering, anxiety, fear, instability, etc.
Another challenge will be to stop judging. We have all been judging each other a lot lately, and I am no different. Many of us have judged the other side, essentially thinking that if a person doesn’t agree with us then they are the enemy and the problem. This wasn’t fair of us—and especially not for me, a person who is literally in the business of not-judging. The very foundation of my work is predicated on the principles of empathy and unconditional positive regard for others, two things that haven’t been a challenge for me up until now. I have been feeling ashamed the last couple of days, but now, I see this as an opportunity for growth as a disruptive therapist, and as a human.
So, how do we stop judging? Again, we reframe the narrative.
Instead of thinking that the supporters of the other side are “wrong” or “bad,” we need to start to question and understand them. I am a staunch believer that most people are inherently good, and products of their life’s circumstances. And this case is no different. It is clear that people are afraid and fed up with the system and status quo, and that’s their right. I see now that I have become complacent in my worldview, living within the safety of my liberal bubble here in California. If I continue to be close-minded and stop listening, then I become the problem.
This is not an easy task, and it will take time. I’ve already wept about five times today, which is a step forward from the hysterical darkness of yesterday. I know this will be hard, but my hope is that we can use the anger to fuel the pursuit of progress. This is our opportunity to work harder, accept harder, connect harder, love harder, educate harder, question harder, and listen harder.
This is an opportunity for growth.
So, the next time you start to judge someone or feel like the sky is falling, try to challenge yourself and reframe. You might just free up some negative headspace with something less painful: