Okay, first of all, I admit it. I am a motivational speaker who focuses a LOT on the power of creating happiness in spite of your circumstances. I talk to people about how life is never about what happens to you, but rather what you choose to do about it. I mean, Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, painted a very vivid picture of how he made it through unimaginable horrors while imprisoned in concentration camps by thinking about his wife, whom he dearly loved.
So there I was, staring in disbelief at an election result that terrified me and all I could feel was fear, anxiety and nausea. And try as I may, I was unsuccessful in turning my attention to my husband, who is the light of my life. That’s when I realized that I may need a few additional strategies to help me through this.
If you, too, are reeling from an election result that angers and terrifies you – you may want to consider the following:
1. IT’S OKAY TO FEEL WHAT YOU ARE FEELING! You get to be scared, mad, sad, confused (whatever) about the outcome! You do! Please, ignore the people who scream, “Get over it! He’s the president! Make the best of it and move on!” I invite you to weep, pull the covers over your head, and generally rail against the heavens. Do NOT simply take a deep breath, bury all those feelings behind some internal organ in your body, and say, “Oh well…” Trust me, THAT is the stuff of which future disease, anxiety and relationship-destruction is made.
2. RAILING ON SOCIAL MEDIA WILL ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE! Don’t do it. Instead use a sympathetic friend or family member, or a qualified therapist. In fact, while you are at it, stay away from television news, social media and all those well-meaning people who want to continually scream in fear. Your mirror neurons will work overtime matching those negative, doom and gloom people.
3. SET YOURSELF A TIME TO FEEL WHAT YOU ARE FEELING. I gave myself last night plus three hours this morning. That’s it. I passionately communicated my feelings to a wonderful, like-minded friend and to my husband. I listened to their concerns, I cried and admitted that I was afraid. I cursed a little (okay, a lot). And now. It’s over. Back to work. At least for right now…
4. UNDERSTAND THAT THIS WILL TAKE TIME. The effects of this election are not trivial. The future of our entire world is in play. In other words, there is no guarantee your anxieties won’t return at any given time. And when they do…
- Use Dr. Frankl’s suggestion and focus on the things that give your life meaning and purpose. Your family, your work, your spiritual beliefs.
- Volunteer! It doesn’t have to be anything formal. Just go help someone who needs help.
- Move your body! Go to the gym, work in the garden, play with the doggies. This morning my girlfriend and I walked on the beach for 45 minutes and it was great!
- Go back to your therapist if you need to.
- Pray and/or meditate – regularly.
It seems appropriate to conclude with some very appropriate words by our first president, George Washington:
“Happiness depends more upon the internal frame
of a person’s own mind, than on the externals of the world.”