This election was difficult on a lot of people. And we made it more difficult on ourselves. Instead of a civilized debate, we made the campaign into a sixth-grade playground with name calling and bullying – on both sides. The results of the election were a shock to half the country, resulting in teenage rebellion and fear – and yes, if the results were reversed, the same thing probably would have happened, just by the other half of our country.
America is a very young country. Our only civil war was a century and a half ago. Much is wrong with our political system and unfortunately, just like in our own lives, transformation is not an easy, smooth process. When something is not right in our lives, we often stay in discomfort for too long because we fear change and the unknown. Often it takes an outside force or for things to become absolutely unbearable before we step into change. Same with our country. But there are ways to make transformation easier – for our country and for ourselves.
First, love and pray, don’t fear or hate. Fear and hate only bring more fear and hatred. This does not get us anywhere. If you hate and attack your husband for not putting down the toilet seat, does this give him any motivation or encouragement to change his behavior? Hate makes the other afraid and victimized which triggers them to protect themselves through returned hate and aggression. Hate is an ugly circle that never ends. Hating something we view as evil is the same as hating something we view as good. Hate is hate. It does not change due to what is being hated. The result of hate is always the same – separation, fear, victimization, and pain – on both sides. We reap what we sow, and if we are sending out hate, we are feeling and experiencing hate too.
Our election has been a gift to help us learn to love. When we love our enemy instead of hating them, we not only feel better but it provides a space for us to communicate and mend. Love does not mean excusing or acquiescing. Love means treating the other as a respected human being. Love means seeing past the surface and into underlying motivations. Love is accepting the other person for who they are and where they are. Love is a safe space. Love is where we can come together, discuss, and hope for the future.
Fear and worry are also a source of causing ourselves unnecessary pain. We don’t know the future and so more times than not we are worrying about something which will never come to fruition. Worrying about something which has not materialized is wasted emotional energy. Worrying places us into a state of fear. It causes us stress which clouds are mind and judgement. Worrying does not solve anything. All it does is bring us down.
Instead pray, meaning focusing on what you do want. When we fear or worry, our energy is being spent on what we do not want. And it is attracting these negative results to us. Instead focus on what you do want; the opposite of your fear. Years ago I worked with a teenager who was having issues with her parents. She was focused on how they might negatively act toward her. The result was her guard was up all the time which made her parents feel they had to fight to get through to her. When, instead, the daughter focused on how she wanted them to act and how she wanted their relationship to be, she relaxed. In her calm state, her parents were also able to be more peaceful and accepting, resulting in a better relationship for all.
Second, learn to communicate and listen. To come together and renovate America creating a new way of life, we need to be able to freely express our opinions, to do so without personal attacks, and to be open to listening to others’ thoughts. Kid President does a great job of explaining how to communicate even when we disagree. His advice is to treat people like people, to listen, to act not react, to state your opinion with love not hate, to accept our differences and differences of opinions, and to stop trying to win.
We are in a time of transformation. Transformation always comes with pain and discomfort. Think of childbirth. It is painful and messy to go through, but it is worth it in the end. This is a challenging time, but our most challenging times are the ones we have the most growth. What we need now is love, understanding and compassion. We have been given a chance to grow personally and as a country. This too shall pass if we can approach our challenges with love, communication, and a focus on our desired collective future.