The election is over and most of us would agree that that’s a good thing. Most of us would also agree that the next few months or years may be difficult ones. The good news is that we have an opportunity to address the things, the issues, that have separated us and divided us. To do this, we will need the skills and the attitudes of resilience. So here is my checklist of things to do.
1. Connect with others, especially with people that you have disagreed with. Failing to do this is what has gotten us to the place where we are presently are.
2. Communicate with others. Don’t just talk, but listen. Especially, again, to people that you don’t agree with. Too often we spend time composing our argument back rather than listening to what the person is saying.
3. Be flexible, both in your thoughts and your actions. This is a time for trying in a different way. We need to be creative. Rigid people usually aren’t. Use your head. Negotiate and, yes, compromise. In a democracy you can’t always have it your way. That’s why they call it a democracy.
4. Deal with your feelings about what has happened. If your candidate lost, honor your grief. Keeping it inside is not a good idea. Anger and grief are toxic emotions that will hurt you in the end. Vent and let go of them.Cry.Scream if you need to but not at other people. Discharge them so you can think more clearly. If you are feeling elated by the results of the election, realize that many people aren’t.Respect others.
5. Be optimistic. Things will change again. The next few months are a short chapter in a long book. Look around. Look at the big picture. Not everything has changed. One event seldom has a pervasive effect on the whole picture. And last of all, don’t blame. Unfortunately, this will be a time when people look for a scapegoat. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame other people. You can hold them accountable for their actions and you need to hold yourself accountable for your own. But this is different from blame. It doesn’t have a heavy dose of negative emotion that blame has.
Now, applying these skills and attitudes to the present situation will not be easy. But it’s your country and it’s your life. What you do or don’t do will affect the lives of your family, your children, and the other inhabitants of this earth.
In the next blog, we’ll talk more about how the skills and the attitudes of resilience can be applied to dealing with the aftermath of the election.
Ronald L. Breazeale, Ph.D.
Author, Duct Tape Isn’t Enough and First Night