Healin’ and Dealin’: 5 Principles to Help with Post-Election Stress

broken heartThis is a post for the folks who are feeling emotional after the election. Whatever the emotion may be—I myself have been numb, devastated, angry, irate, despairing, and sad within the last three days. it’s all welcome here so long as we are kind to one another.

This election is a little bit like the time I did yoga in my underwear in front of a full-length mirror when I finally was ready to see how much post-partum weight I had gained. In other words, it’s been a real eye opener that isn’t particularly fun or enjoyable, but also imperative for moving toward something better.

It’s been tough for me to reconcile the America I thought I lived in and the one that showed up to the polls.  I’ve had the privilege of living in a bubble—recognizing that people felt threatened but convinced that things were getting better, had already gotten better, and we needed to focus on the good. I had the luxury of discounting the signs that all was not well. I am so, so sorry about that. There’s a difference between choosing your focus and deluding yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s a fantasy to think that if you just work on yourself, do your practice and stay open that you’ll never have any problems again. I know the world will trigger us as well as support us. I know that there can’t be light without darkness, rebirth without a death, summer without winter, blah blah blah.

And still, I felt sucker punched. When people say we need to accept Donald Trump as our president and support him, I just can’t. I accept that he won, and that he’s president, but I don’t accept that people have been emboldened to attack and taunt people based on things like their skin color, religion, sexual orientation. I don’t accept that we have to just lie down and let things we fought for and value—protections for the environment, human rights, women’s rights—get wiped away.

I’m still trying to figure out what to think, honestly. I’m actually trying not to think too much until my emotions settle down a bit. But there are things I know to be true, no matter the circumstance, and all I can do in the moment is keep coming back to them. They’re as true when it feels like the world has completely turned upside-down as they are when everything feels pretty a-OK. These are my top five guiding principles right now:

  • Awareness is always the first step in change. You can’t change a habit you don’t know you have. We can’t expect to change racism, bigotry, assaultive behavior, violence, anger if we don’t recognize exactly what we’re dealing with. Now we know a lot more about that. Things have to come in to the light to be healed.
  • A broken heart breaks you open, and that’s a powerful path toward healing and expansion if you let yourself be vulnerable and don’t grow an armadillo shell over it to keep it ‘protected’. There truly is no protection from stuff that will break your heart, and realizing that you don’t have to spend energy on a false sense of protection frees you up to create change.
  • Obstacles are to be welcomed. They’re how we learn and grow. I’ve shared this quote before, but it’s still one of my faves and the first thing that popped into my head when I heard a gunshot at 3 am on Wednesday morning and knew that Trump had won (I had gone to bed early so I could go to sleep with the hope that the election might still find its way to a different ending.)

“It is proper to welcome struggle, for its arrival is auspicious. Struggle keeps us from growing sluggish. It transforms an ordinary human into a spiritually awake person.”   — Swami Kripalu (Click to Tweet.)

We need more spiritually awake people, always. And we all have the capacity to become more spiritually awake.

  • Judgment only creates suffering. We may not like what we hear, but we’ve got to ask the question and listen to the answers. We’ve got to let people feel how they feel and think what they think, including ourselves. We can respectfully disagree. We don’t have to take things personally—because that’s when we get gutted and act rashly.
  • The most efficient way to get through big emotions is to feel them. You will never hear me say to pull up your socks, just get over it, or stop whining. All you can do is give yourself the space and the permission to feel how you feel. Otherwise, those feelings will go underground and get weird—unexpressed sadness will turn in to cynicism or anger, unexpressed anger will turn into depression. So, everyone, however you’re feeling, you’re entitled to those emotions. Give them a seat at the table with the intention of facilitating their resolution.

Got something that’s helping you feel better? Share it below. (As they said at my kids’ preschool—no mean talk!)

No matter who you voted for, or didn’t, we’re all in this together and I’m sending you love.

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