Welp, we have a winner. And, technically, it isn't the majority's choice. The Seattle air was palpably heavy yesterday. Coffee shops and walking paths seemed a little emptier, faces looked little more somber, people were protesting downtown. I could practically hear the clicking of "Unfriend" buttons everywhere. I've lived through many elections, but this one has been, by far, the most divisive.
The turbulent emotional waters have left most of us searching for dry land. So, without further adieu, here some things to remember as you make your way shoreward:
1. Some of us are grieving. Roughly 48 percent of us are working through grief's five stages: shock ("Oh my god!"), denial ("This can't be happening. There must be some mistake!"), anger ("WTF?"), bargaining ("If only those swing state voters hadn't chosen a third party."), depression ("What do I tell my children? What is happening to my country?"), and, finally, acceptance ("Okay. Now what?").
It is perfectly normal and natural to grieve when outcomes are neither chosen nor desired. Name your feelings and speak them out loud, first to yourself. Give your grief the space and compassion it deserves. If you are not grieving, respect folks who are.
2. Some of us are celebrating. Those who voted for Trump did so either because they believed him to be the best person for the job or because they perceived him to be the less malignant of the two candidates. Either way, they are happy he won. Part of the privilege of living in a democracy is that each of us is free to think and vote as we choose. This means some of us get what we want and some do not. Be gracious to those who are pleased with the outcome.
3. Know when to say "when." When we are afraid, sad, or angry the constant drum beat of 24-hour news coverage can escalate those feelings. If your political rhetoric cup is overflowing, walk away for a while. Turn off the television, put down the phone, disable your social media accounts--do whatever it takes to create a quiet space for yourself. Also, it's okay to tell your friends that you need to limit post-election discussion. They'll understand and, quite possibly, feel relieved.
4. Live your values. We don't have to drink the party Kool-aid if we don't like the flavor. Voting is only one of many ways to make your voice heard. Now is the time to lean into what you stand for.
Feel passionate about social justice? Be a voice for the oppressed! Donate time or money to causes that support your vision for the future. If that feels like too much, set a conscious intention to be kind to other humans: smile at babies, look people in the eye, hold the door open for old people. Do whatever you can to pump more love into the world; there is always room for it!
5. Teach your children. Now is a great time make explicit your family's values and to explore with your children the complexities of living in a country where people have the right to think, feel, and act independently. Encourage your children to vocalize their thoughts and feelings; listen supportively.
Kids do not have the maturity or life experience to accurately forecast outcomes. They take their safety cues from adults. Thus, it is important to model composure. Tell your children that they are loved. Tell them they are safe. Tell them your family will continue to uphold its own values; empower them by including them in the ways you choose to do this.
A little smoke and mirrors is sometimes necessary when you are a parent. Even if you don't quite believe it yet, tell your young people it is going to be okay. They need to hear this.
6. Remember the divine. Crises and conflict are sometimes needed to break apart a system that is yearning to be reassembled differently. Perhaps the election is teaching us something we need to learn but have yet to know.
In times of uncertainty, it is normal to feel afraid. Fear can easily convince us the worst is likely to happen. Try to acknowledge fear without letting it run away with itself. Remember, this moment was divinely chosen for a purpose that will eventually reveal itself.
7. Zoom out. This is one moment, in one day, in one year, in one lifetime. We are but one person, in one state, in one country, in one world. Things are more manageable when we consider them in context.
8. Zoom In. When you feel your head spinning, gently recenter yourself. Use your senses to help you do this. What are five things you can see right now? Four things you can touch? Three things you hear? Two things you smell? One thing you taste? Count your breath (in for six seconds, hold for two, out for six). Tell yourself it is enough to be present now.
9. Gratitude. It is nearly impossible to freak out and feel grateful at the same time. Try it. Scan your environment for something--anything--good: warm sun on your face, delicious food in your belly, the health of loved ones, green lights on your commute to work. Take a moment to speak words of gratitude out loud. Notice how you feel when you do.
While we may be politically divided right now, love has the power to unite us. As you move through your own post-election process, remember that compassion is non-partisan. Be patient. Be kind. Be courteous. Be human.
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, dating coach, and writer. She offers dating consultation and counseling services in Seattle, WA.
11/10/2016 01:57:00 pm
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Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, grief counselor, and dating coach. Her coaching and therapy practice is located in the Phinney - Greenwood area of North Seattle in Washington.