Politically speaking, the last year was something out of a very confusing but captivating fiction novel. Good vs evil, the emergence of a new type of power, emotional and political chaos…The election sure stirred up plenty of complex feelings for most Americans. After the peaceful transition of power took place, millions of protesters filled the streets. An oxymoron in it’s glory. Many Americans felt empowered again, some didn’t care, and other’s were angry, annoyed and frustrated at the lack of respect shown to our newly elected president.
Do you ever say to yourself, “How can they (the “others”) feel this way? How do they not see what I see?” It’s as though Americans, as well as people all over the globe, are living in two different realities. What’s your reality?
Do you noticed the following in yourself and others? A rise in irritability, feeling consumed by the daily reported news events, lack of focus and attention at work or at home, sadness, loneliness, confused, distant from friends or family who don’t see things your way (er, the “right” way as you might believe).
Do you noticed the following in yourself and others? A sense of power or control, happiness, hopeful, engaged, eager to politically start anew, distant from friends or family who don’t see things your way (er, the “right” way as you might believe).
What does this perceived (or real) divide do to our sense of mental health and well-being? Maybe it depends on which camp you fall into, or better yet, where on the spectrum you are. If things went your way politically, the divide may not cause much disruption to your psyche because you got what it was that you wanted. You are eager to see how this change might impact our country. What about the other side? Those who fear their morals, values, and every ounce of who they are is threatened. Or possibly you’re somewhere in between the two extremes; feeling some emotions from each category, deepening or lessening depending on the day. Or maybe you really just don’t care at all and look the other way.
Regardless of where you fall on the political-emotional spectrum, most are finding themselves feeling something – whether you voted for Trump, Hillary, another party nominee or decided to sleep in on election day, the division and contention between news outlets, questions your kids might have about it all, newly found discord with friends and family who are now “the others” all may increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s hitting all of us a million miles a minute. On t.v., social media, at work, in school… we can’t seem to escape it!
The real question… now what?
Let’s break it down:
First. Know how you feel. Know why you feel what you feel. Maybe you need to journal or draw or sing or dance. Find a few ways to express yourself to help you gain insight into what’s driving your political-emotional reaction. If we know what we think and feel we can be more in control of what to do about it. And yes. There is always something you can do about it. Keep reading.
Second. Know that someone else believes you are completely right just as there is someone who believes you are completely wrong. The beauty of the human brain and higher level thought is our abstract reasoning abilities, etc. If we all thought about life in the same way, we wouldn’t have all the unique and diverse wonders that so many wo/men invented. It is because of our differences (as well as our similarities) that make us we are who we are today. You are not alone AND you are completely alone. Too abstract perhaps?
Third. If you don’t like sitting around, don’t. Do something. Get involved. Get educated. Get inspired. Inspire others. No matter where you are on the political-emotional spectrum, if you have feelings that consume you, engage yourself in a productive manner to gain hold of and put boundaries around that of which engulfs you. Control it just a little more than it controls you.
Fourth. Gain understanding. This is hard. You clearly can’t see the “others” position. But humor me and try. Empathy is still alive and well even when you can’t always seem to find it inside of you. Try saying, “It’s hard for me to see things as you do but I respect that we have differing views on the matter.”
Fifth. Get moving. Your body doesn’t do well sitting, sleeping, typing. Your brain and your body need exercise to maintain a sense of healthy calm. Aggression may lessen and clarity may rise.
Sixth. If you can’t manage your emotions with the steps above and friends/family are unable to offer the support you need, talk to a professional. Ask for help. A therapist can help you be you and help you find strategies to re-gain control.