This election season has been wrought with heated emotions and divisive politics. Whether your preferred candidate won or lost, it’s essential to remember the lessons we learned in childhood about competition. Many people feel deeply affected by current events and the outcome of elections. However, once we cast our votes, we have to prepare for whatever results are to come.
This principle applies to people on both sides. Since we don’t necessarily know where all of our neighbors and friends stand on different issues, it’s best to avoid letting political beliefs get in the way of good relationships. Anytime we root for a cause, train for an event, or work towards a goal, we face the possibility of victory or disappointment. With a little extra thought and awareness, it’s possible to prevent the grief of losing from getting us down. In addition, winning gracefully is a vital skill for keeping personal relationships intact.
Mentally Prepare for Any Outcome
If we remain mentally and emotionally ready for any outcome, we can weather the results more easily. It’s never safe to assume that things will turn out the way we want, hope, or expect. Life is full of surprises. Although you may not want to consider that elections or other competitions won’t turn out in your favor, picturing the possibility helps us stay grounded in reality. There’s a delicate balance between a hopeful outlook and being unrealistic or denying what the future may bring.
Immerse Yourself in Disappointment
In an effort to respond maturely or respectfully to a “losing” outcome, you might assume it’s best to get over it, accept the results, or put on a fake smile. Although we should ultimately find ways to make peace with the present, it’s okay first to acknowledge our negative emotions. Sitting with disappointment, anger, frustration, or sadness gives us a chance to validate our feelings. Without taking this step, we’re unlikely to be able to move forward free from lingering resentment.
Instead of calling to complain to an unsympathetic ear, commiserate with someone who is on the same page as you. Set aside some time to discuss why you’re disappointed and then make a conscious decision to move on when you’re ready. If you don’t want to make yourself vulnerable to another person, you can experience many of the same mental and emotional benefits by writing down your thoughts in a journal.
Compile a list detailing why you’re upset. Dig deep to explore your emotions and describe how you’re feeling. Journaling provides a non-judgmental shoulder to lean on, and a means to work out feelings without burdening others or fearing repercussions. If you’ve struggled to find somewhere to vent, a journal is a much better option than social media or, worse, arguing with relatives.
Consciously Choose to Free Yourself
After acknowledging the full extent of our authentic feelings, there comes a point where we have to take back power over how we feel. We can’t control every outcome, and finding balance in other areas of our life helps shift the focus from what is upsetting us. If bonding with a likeminded friend or writing down our feelings doesn’t provide sufficient relief, it might be wise to seek counseling. Professional help can offer the tools to stop a negative feedback loop of destructive thoughts.
In regards to the election, that might mean taking a break from the news. When we’re constantly bombarded with a hyperfocus on politics, it’s tough to switch gears and maintain a balanced life. Messages on social media, online news outlets, and television can make it seem like there’s no escape from politics. Give yourself permission to unplug and focus on other things.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the people around us who keep bringing up topics that we are trying to think about less. If you have friends or coworkers who won’t stop discussing the election results or other events you want to put aside, it’s okay to respectfully set your own boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with taking a pass by saying you don’t want to get into it. If they don’t listen, feel free to excuse yourself, change the topic, or even avoid speaking with them until the hype has simmered. When you make your feelings known politely, people should listen. If they don’t, walk away.
Learn to Win Gracefully
Winning with grace is just as crucial, if not more so, than losing gracefully. No one likes a sore winner, and there’s a lot of potential harm to be done when we’re insensitive to other people’s reactions. Just because we’re glad about how the election or another event has turned out, we can never assume that others are on the same page. If you want to discuss the topic, do so in a way that gives the other person an out, so they don’t feel pressured to talk about an issue that upsets them.
Ask open-ended questions, like: “How do you feel about the outcome?” You can express your happiness without rubbing it in other people’s faces, bragging, or boasting. If you find out that the other person isn’t on the same page, there’s no point in trying to celebrate with them. Instead, connect with those who genuinely share your joy rather than those who may feel slighted by it.
Always Put People First
No matter how strongly you feel about politics, religion, or any other controversial topic, it’s rarely worth losing a close friend over it. If someone doesn’t agree with you or isn’t as passionate about the subject, they’ll be quickly put off if you keep bringing it up or trying to convince them of your viewpoint. Just consider if the shoe was on the other foot. If you’ve ever had someone trying to jam an ideal down your throat, chances are you got defensive and didn’t enjoy being around that person.
While we should always be open to dialogue about the things in life that matter to us, being too preachy or pushy is a universal turn-off. Instead, seek to find areas of common ground and build on your relationships from there. Even when we disagree, we owe the people closest to us a basic level of respect, especially if we value our connection with them. Failing to keep things in perspective does more harm than good. If we can’t move past one sticking point of disagreement, we may end up losing good friends from different backgrounds.
There are so many aspects of our lives that we can choose to talk about in a given conversation. Why not discuss uplifting subjects that build bridges between us. When we genuinely intend to understand others and connect, focusing on differing viewpoints won’t get us there. It’s okay to agree to disagree without letting one topic ruin an otherwise fulfilling relationship.
In the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make those around you feel great by always bringing the conversation back to a place of common ground where everyone feels like a winner.
Our mission is to walk with you, hand in hand, through the necessary action steps to actually “recover” from your grieving experience. We offer grief coaching and support services for individuals, groups, and organizations from all walks of life. We specialize in helping grievers and their families, and we strive to consult with, educate, and support the community at large including companies, organizations, schools, and religious institutions. Even though you’ve endured painful changes in the circumstances of your life, we extend our hand of support to you, and invite you to embark on your journey of healing.