People are afraid, people are very afraid. And others, well are satisfied and hopeful. This election has proven to be a deeply emotional time for many of our citizens. And as a group of therapists working with clients who share this varied array of viewpoints and reactions, we have been processing our own feelings together in effort to see what we can learn from one another and what positive action steps we can take towards healing what seems to be a deeply divided country.
We have outlined a few ideas here that we hope may offer food for thought and guidance on how to navigate these turbulent times we find ourselves living in. We deeply appreciate and greatly welcome your feedback and thoughts.
- Fear has a wisdom to share, and curiosity and empathy are the channels through which to share it. Long before November 8th a massive number of people had been contending with their fears of survival and distrust of the powers that be. As of November 9th a whole new group of people share pretty much the same base fear, fear of survival and distrust of the new powers that be. If you take the players out and look at just the raw emotional and mental holding of the situation, the feelings are the same – fear, insecurity, distrust. We wonder what may be possible if both sides could come together to process, commiserate and offer consolation for how unbelievably difficult it is to live with these feelings day in and day out?
- Seek to engage and enlighten, not to denigrate and decimate. There have been so many words shared, posted, protested, and screamed and shouted. While there has been a vast array of supportive and comforting words shared, many words thrown back and forth have been antagonistic, insensitive, judgmental or just plain cruel. Staying in an angry fight stance, holding one’s ground might feel powerful and security boosting and even perhaps necessary at times, it can only further fuel the divide and will impede any chance for a deeper understanding among different people to emerge. Take time to read what the other side of where you stand has to say. Take time to consider that what they may believe is as valid for them as what you believe is for you. Even if you don’t agree with one another, open unbiased listening to one another is the only jumping off point for any productive discussion between disparate views to ensue.
- Be clear about what you can and can’t control. Ok, so you may not be able to control your friends vote but you can control how you talk to your family, your neighbors or the strangers you encounter throughout your day. One shared smile, a “thank you” or “after you”, any simple act of kindness can go a long way especially during times of difficulty. You can also take control of how you care for yourself and others during this time of transition. For instance, instead of staying up too late glued to the TV or internet, set a cut off time and get to bed on time for some much needed rest. Or instead of allowing your fears are dominate you, refocus your attention on your daily routine and the tasks at hand, meditate, journal, exercise or seek support from loved ones.
- Expand your horizons and break out of your bubble. When the great divide between those who voted for Trump and those who did not crystalized in blankets of red and pops of blue during the election, what became ever more clear was the extent to which we may not know a whole lot about our fellow citizens and how they live in their part of the country. Some ideas we came up with at BHAVA Therapy Groupis include encouraging pen-pal relationships between youngsters living in different states. Or creating a consortium of therapists from different states who can gather together and share about the issues their clients living in the communities in which they work struggle with most of all. We should not be quick to make assumptions in lieu of having accurate information, we should seek to understand what we do not know.
- Please don’t be too quick to catastrophize or glamorize. Whether you like it or not, our reality is Donald Trump is the President Elect of the United Stated of America. Time will tell what shape our country will take under a Trump Presidency. Whenever a new president is set to take the wheel, uncertainty is rife. Taking good care of ourselves and others while living in such uncertain times is key.