After the shock, denial, anger, etc., we have to acknowledge that this is happening, allow ourselves to feel our feelings, but then do whatever is in our control to fight for what we believe.
I am writing this the day after the election and I can’t seem to shake this gnawing in the pit of my stomach; this sense of impending doom. I’m sad and afraid for so many reasons. I’m sad that our deserving neighbor didn’t break the glass ceiling and become our next President, and I’m fearful of a President with no experience, who ran a campaign based on anger and hate.
I’m terrified by the racists and bigots he energized and the actions they might take. I have followed this election campaign holding my breath, wanting it to be over to breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, now that it is presumably over, all I want to do is turn back time.
This election was a big shock and disappointment to many, but approximately half of those who voted chose him. We need to honor and respect the democratic process and face the reality of who is our next President, but how?
Mindfulness has taught me how to face many stressful situations with grace and ease. Life is difficult; it is filled with adversity and struggle. There are many things we cannot control, but how we respond to life’s challenges is within our power and can make all the difference.
In my mindfulness boot camp group today, everyone was shocked, distraught and disappointed, so we explored how mindfulness can help us cope with post-election blues.
- Acceptance: Not arguing with reality, even if we don’t like it.
- Non-judgment: Not judging yourself for experiencing feelings that are real. Also, trying not to judge others who disagree with you. You may have experienced some heated discourse at the Thanksgiving table, but listening to others with an open mind can help us understand, instead of dismissing others viewpoints.
- Present moment: Be here now. Notice when your thoughts veer off into the future fearing the worst scenario. Bring yourself back to the present. Our minds are often stuck in a negative fantasy which leads to anxiety. Let’s take this day by day. As the late Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
- Beginner’s Mind: Look at situations without preconceived notions. As difficult as that may be, we do not really know how things will turn out. We can leave room for the possibility of our party becoming stronger than ever and more people becoming activists for change.
Consider a Taoist story of an old farmer who worked his crops for many years …
One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.
“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“We’ll see,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“We’ll see” said the farmer.
If Hillary represents anything, it is that a life of public service and doing good is the cornerstone to contributing in society. Let’s take our lead from her and channel our energies into action. We cannot be complacent, but must lead with dignity and grace, just like Hillary. We need to go high when they go low, like Michelle Obama. We need to be stronger together and not divided. We need to model for our children by our actions as well as our words. We need to look for opportunities to make a difference and practice “compassion in action.” We may have lost this battle, but not the war.
As I share my feelings and meditate on what actions I will take moving forward, I am reminded of a comment made today during the group session. One of the moms shared with us the experience of telling her child, who is four, that Donald Trump was the winner. She thought he’d cry or be upset but he looked up at her with a smile and said, “maybe now he won’t be so angry.” What a way to look at the world, through the optimistic eyes of a child.
Jodi Baretz, LCSW is a psychotherapist, mindfulness and health coach at The Center for Health and Healing in Mt. Kisco. She runs a mindfulness bootcamp called “Mindful is the New Skinny,” and specializes in stress reduction for busy moms. Jodi lives in Millwood with her husband and two sons. Visit her website jodibaretz.com