The events of this year’s election have shaken many of us to the core.
The intensity of emotions we are experiencing are confusing, at times painful, and very real. Many people have been deeply impacted in a wide variety of ways.
I know that for me and many of my clients, one of the greatest challenges has been staying in relationship with friends and family who have differing opinions from our own. This is one of the areas that I am working on with a number of clients these days—the practice of taking care of ourselves in the after-effects of the election.
If you feel that you are grieving, it is essential to take very good care of yourself. Sometimes taking care of yourself can mean staying away from triggering people and situations. Check in and see what boundaries you need to hold when surrounded by those with differing opinions from you.
It is important, though, to remember that “Contact is the appreciation of differences,” as famed Gestalt psychotherapist Fritz Perls says. And later Gestalt thought leader, Dick Price, adds, “And recognition of similarities.” This can be quite helpful for us to keep in mind when we enter into conversation with those who have differing views from our own.
It helps to keep a curious and open mind when entering such conversations. Imagine how diverse opinions can ultimately help us find compassion in others that are different from who we are.
When we approach conversations from a place of curiosity, we can create the opportunity for less reactive, more engaged and possibly more fruitful dialogue.
I would like to offer a few tips as you navigate this period:
1. Take your time to process your feelings about the election.
2. If you notice that your everyday functioning is being impaired, reach out and get professional support.
3. Connect with others who are sharing your experience of shock, anger, or grief. Connecting with your community can help ease feelings of isolation and depression.
4. Start or continue your own personal work. Now, more than ever, we are each being called to be conscious of the painful parts in ourselves and others that creates divisiveness in our homes, communities, and country.
5. As much as possible, return to the present and challenge future-oriented thoughts. While it’s normal and natural for our minds to race ahead, we simply don’t know what the coming weeks, months, and years will hold. Work to come back to the present, grounding yourself in the safety of your present reality, and continue taking very good care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.