Are you feeling stress, turmoil, and even grief, in the aftermath of the U.S. election, or world events? Have things going on in our country, and in the world, exacerbated feelings that you may already have been experiencing? Does it sometimes feel like you are fighting for survival.. fighting to be strong..fighting not to break down..fighting to be there for all who need you..fighting to control your anger.. fighting against injustice? It’s good to have some fight in us, and not to just let ourselves give up in defeat. However, the constant stress of such fighting, anger and grief, can harm our minds and bodies.
There are obviously people who are pleased with the election results. You might guess that I am not one of them. This post is meant to address the emotions of people on both sides of the divide.
Many, including me, are living with a strong sense of grief and anger about the election, and what we feel to be happening, as well as what we fear is going to happen. Some who are pleased with the results, are upset by the reactions of friends and relatives who learn about which candidate they supported, and who are angry at them, and/or puzzled. Some folks have been experiencing physical symptoms since the election, that may well be related to the stress and emotions that have flooded over them.
People have been on a “de-friending rampage” on social media, because they are tired of reading views that oppose their own. I feel myself to be a tolerant person, but I confess that my mood has been agitated, and I, too, have had a hard time reading and listening to certain things. Over the last months I have indeed blocked some people from my Facebook page, for example, not because I didn’t like their views, but because of nasty comments and personal attacks.
There is a sense of confusion pervading the air, as we find out how people we thought we knew, actually feel, and if their feelings and beliefs are not what we expected, we may find ourselves conflicted. They may be people we like and admire in certain realms of life, but we suddenly are at a loss as to how to interact with, or respond to them. Friends may even seem pitted against friends. That can create real tension and turmoil for us.
There are those who tell us it is ridiculous to have the grief we are having over the election results. They also tell us what is going on is nothing new. They don’t see this as a reason to have such feelings, as though any type of grief were something we could totally control, or something we could eradicate simply by exercising our will power. If only…..!
Grief..This is a state of being that weighs us down, that hurts us as much as physical pain. It is from the Latin word, “gravare”, which means weighty or heavy. It’s human nature to feel grief. It will always be part of us, and of how we experience things. This happens when we lose those who are precious to us. This happens too, when the values we hold close, that are the basis for how we conduct ourselves and live in the world, seem to be in danger of disappearing completely, or we feel that they are.
Still, if your grief fits you like a glove…if it is too “comfortable”, and familiar to you, and you gradually let it be the ONLY garment you wear out in the world, you will miss out on so very much. It may also make you ill. You may turn into a perpetually angry or bitter person, and one who is unable to experience pleasure or joy. You will not be in a great position to take action against things that are disturbing you, and that you feel need protest and work, in order to transform. You will be too de-energized, and maybe incapacitated. You will not be able to fulfill your responsibilities as a private citizen, or as one who is committed to change in our country.
When we get stuck in the mire of the unhappy, or perpetually angry, we train ourselves to respond that way to everything in life. We must gradually relearn how to find find peace and joy again after loss. This applies to a political loss too. It doesn’t mean complacency or meek acceptance. It means finding a way to stay healthy, so as to be able to survive and make some type of difference in the world. Our brains and bodies resist, but if we don’t practice, we will not regain our peace and sense of balance.
Whether your grief and anger are due to a personal loss, or you are experiencing them over the divisions in the United States, over the atmosphere of hatred that seems to many of us to be growing, or over world events, know that your grief is very real. Over time, this will change in nature and intensity, if you let it. It may just need to run its course at first. If you push it down, if you let people tell you it’s unjustified, or that you need to feel or act in a different manner, you will harm yourself ultimately. Your pain and stress will probably grow, and may keep you stuck in a destructive, unhealthy, and unproductive rut.
I wish for you all a lessening of grief, and anger, if you are experiencing these, so that light and positive energy can find their way in to your heart once again. I wish this for you, so that you can find the strength to take part in ensuring, in whatever ways you can, that the values you hold important about life and about our country, are not destroyed by ignorance and hatred. We can all do our part, though we may not do it in exactly the same way.
May today be a little less of a struggle, and may each new day increase your ability to find peace, joy and justice.
I am thinking of all of you. When tears or anger overtake you, may you also find fond and secure memories, and may they create some smiles to season the tears. May you seek and find clarity about what is truly important to you, and how you can do your own part in making the world a better place. Try to remember the good things about your life, about those you have lost, about the world and about our country, though it may be hard right now.
I hope you will realize that caring for yourself in times of stress, is also so crucial. You can’t help yourself, or anyone else without doing that.
What might happen if you worked a little harder to see the hidden gift in every single occurrence of your life, including the things you don’t like? There are gifts in everything, including in things we consider ugly and unjust, because they spur us on to change, and to do better.