Decades ago, I watched election night coverage with my Mother. She would wring her hands, cry and get hysterical if her candidate was not winning. She was quite certain that the US would no longer continue to exist and that all Hell would break lose if her candidate did not win. Since we generally held opposite political views, I failed to understand her concern. Now I do.
This 2016 election has divided and wounded all of us. Whether our favorite candidate wins or loses, it’s going to be a long uphill battle to unite our country. We’re a diverse group. We have different faiths, different colors of skins, different ethnicities, different sexual orientation and different values and different things that are important to each of us.
Yes, we are different. But in over 20 years as a counselor and coach, my experience has been that we may be very different on the outside but we are more alike on the inside. Those with similar faiths and values and skin colors may vote for different candidates both hoping that their candidate will make a difference. When we focus on our similarities rather that our differences, there is much to agree on. When we focus on differences we see differences, when we focus on similarities we see similarities. We see what we focus on.
Through fear and anger and allegations, we’ve been encouraged to only see the differences. We’ve been taught to hate. As the song from South Pacific says, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.” As a country, we have learned to hate. We’ve learned to hate what is different, what we do not understand.
Dealing with the Grief
Your favorite candidates may win or lose or a little of both. So how do we deal with the grieving and move forward? Before we are ready to move on we need a few days or a few weeks to vent with our friends and like-minded souls, but staying in that victim, pity party place damages us.
1. SHOCK. You can’t believe what just happened and you want to go around blaming everybody else
2. ANGER. You may feel like punching someone or something or sabotaging the winner or just being disagreeable with everyone you meet.
3. SADNESS. Tears. Moping. Just feel like staying in bed, pulling the covers over your head and this will all go away.
4. BARGAINING. What can I do now? Or beating yourself up for not doing enough to support your candidate to win. If only… If onlys don’t get us anywhere.
5. ACCEPTANCE. Ok, I don’t like this but this is what happened, and I’m ready to move forward. I’m ready to make the best of it and do what I can to support my country. Am I ready to be part of the solution or part of the problem?
The Power of Compassion
We’ve stopped listening. We’ve stopped respecting others with a different point of view. We’ve become unwilling to reach across the aisle.
Don’t let this election ruin our country or ruin your life. You may need a few days to rant and rave, and that’s okay. That can be healing as long you do it with your buddies. But then it’s time to get out of your pity party place. What would a grass roots effort look like if we all put aside our differences, focused on our commonalities and committed to healing this country? I have faith in humanity. I have faith that we can do it. It won’t be easy, but yes it is possible.
The only way we will move forward is with compassion. Compassion is healing. So what is compassion? Compassion is treating others the way we want to be treated – not just the people we like, but ALL people. Just in case you haven’t heard of it, it’s called the Golden Rule in Christianity and is a major tenet of all the world’s major religions. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, our neighbor was the despised, the unclean, and shunned. With that description, there are certainly lots of people in this country who qualify as our neighbors. I suspect you can think of a few right now that fit that description. Who would Jesus call us to be neighbors with now? How do we love our neighbor?
How Do We Heal After This Election?
How do we heal ourselves, our communities our country? Yes, you can hold onto you bitterness and rage. Some people like to hold grudges or at least they don’t know a better way. But grudges eat away at us, and people who hold grudges are never very happy.
1. Take a few days (or weeks) to vent and commiserate with buddies.
2. Yes, you will go thru that grieving process, and it is not pleasant.
3. Be self-compassionate and take good care of yourself.
4. Time to step out of you pity party, that victim move and make a difference for yourself and your country.
5. Reach out to someone who has a different view than you, and listen. Look for similarities rather than differences.
What To Do Next?
After we’ve had our ranting and raving and our pity party, we begin the process of healing. We need to heal ourselves and our country. We let go of our own anger and fear. We are most fearful of what and who we do not know. We are fearful of people not like us.
If you do one thing differently, LISTEN. Sit down with a neighbor who has a different point of view. Look for similarities. Find out what makes them tick. What are they passionate about? What are your similarities?
Do you know anyone who wants their kids to have a better life, to do a job and be well paid, to be treated with respect? There is so much we agree on. We may disagree on how to do it, but we may agree on what we want.
On some issues, we agree to disagree. We focus on the similarities and we make progress. We are stronger together as we strive to make America great.
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