Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Post 2016 Election Stress Reduction

The 2016 campaign and election was one of the most stressful in American history.

Hopefully, I can write this blog without revealing which candidate I was cheering for.  The main thing, is to help YOU with your post election stress.

Whether you voted for one candidate or the other, most likely your stress level was high, as it was for most Americans.

Post election stress, is also high among folks within both of the main parties, as well as the smaller outlier parties.  It doesn't matter if you voted for Hillary or Trump, you most likely were scared, confused, hopeful at some point, and totally surprised in the end.

So what do you do now?

Well, if you are a Trump supporter--unless you live in a dominantly Republican state--you most likely are frequently hiding that you voted for him.  Witnessing the many people around you who are angry and upset that their candidate, Hillary Clinton, did not win, is upsetting.  Especially if it is friends or family members who you can't even talk to about your glee and celebration.  Maybe you've even had doubt about whether you did the right thing or not.  You might also feel confused that many of those who disagree with you consider you now to be a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and white-supremacists.

If you had hoped that Hillary would win, you are most likely suffering from what many other Hillary supporters feel, which is a combination of shock, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and depression at what seems to be a realization that so many Americans seem to still carry so much prejudice and hate in their hearts.  You might worry that--as has been reported--you might be the victim of post-election bullying, prejudice, hate crimes like misogyny or attacks on gays and lesbians, or accused of just whining and not being able to accept the outcome.

One of the things many of us can agree on is that we would like to come together now that the election is over.  If you can't stand that Trump won, it's important to remember that not all Trump supporters are hate mongers.  And if you were a Trump supporter, the burden might be on your shoulders now to prove to others that you are not a hate monger.

So how do we deal with the stress of this outcome?

Nothing feeds open wounds more than poor winners, or poor losers.  Many of us were taught that when we competed in sports in school, it was appropriate to shake the hands of those we just beat or lost to.  In addition, debate education taught us all to graciously listen to those who have views that differ from our own, and to politely acknowledge what it is we agree on with our debate opponents.  Disagreeing does not mean dominance and demeaning other people who disagree with us.

We all want to do good in the world, but sometimes we disagree on what "good" is.  We differ in our religious and philosophical views, but that doesn't mean we need to fight with each other, be disrespectful or violent with one another, or call one another names. 

Sit down today and take a deep inventory of your thoughts and feelings.  Have you already begun to demonize those with views that oppose your own?  Are you calling them names like "whiners, hate mongers, racists, or babies"?  Think about how these titles and views will never bring us back together as a nation.

It's important to exercise a high dose of empathy right now.  A means of getting inside the head and perception of those that disagree with us, and seeing the world from their mind-set.  It does not mean we agree with them!  It simply means we are making an effort to see how they view the world so we can come to the table in decent conversation, and not arguing with hate in our hearts.

Take into consideration three views which you are at least willing to try to see from those who disagree with you.  Then, try it without rushing in to defend your own view.  Seriously TRY to see your opponents view without arguing about it.  It does not mean you agree with them, you simply say... if I were in your head, I can see how you see it that way.

All we can do at this point is try our best to improve our communication skills as much as possible.  Brainstorm to see where we are willing to bend or be flexible, because compromise means we all have to give a little.  Polarization only gets worse when we can't compromise or meet others half-way.

Thank you to Beverly & Pack for the great photo of the Peace Flag