US Election: How To Cope With Post-Election Anxiety
I wasn’t going to write anything about the US election results, partly because I didn’t want to get caught up in all the fighting and partly because I just didn’t know what to say. But I’ve received so many messages, asking me how you can possibly live the life you love when you are experiencing such fear, shock, disappointment, worry, stress and sadness at the Trump victory. So I decided to share my take on it with you.
I am not a US citizen.
I have never lived in the US.
I am not an expert on US politics.
What I do know is how to turn a shit situation around, so that’s what I want to help you with.
The US Election didn’t go the way I wanted
You are an American citizen and you voted for Hilary Clinton.
You are an American citizen and you feel let down by the system as you wanted neither Hilary Clinton nor Donald Trump.
You are a citizen of the world and you watched helpless as a man came to power that makes you scared / worried / sick / anxious / other.
I have a huge amount of American friends and I know that for many people this US Election has become the new definition of being caught between a rock and a hard place. So many people I spoke to said they didn’t want Trump but they couldn’t vote for Clinton either. One person summed it up as hating Donald Trump but despising Hilary Clinton.
I am a Brit so this election affects me from a global, foreign policy and environmental point of view rather than on a day-to-day basis, but for everyone, no matter where you are in the world, there are a few things we all need to take on board:
- Donald Trump is the President Elect
- It is pretty much impossible for us to change (in any big way) who he is, his views or his actions
- Nearly 60 million people actively put a tick in a box next to Donald Trump’s name, so you are likely to come across Trump supporters / voters online or in your daily life
How do I react to Trump voters?
In the UK, post-Brexit, I saw friends and families completely fall out and even fall apart over their differing views. I have witnessed full on arguments on social media. I have friends who have lost life-long friends over the outcome of Brexit.
If you live in the free world you have the right to your own opinions and – usually – to free speech.
It is incredibly hard to understand when someone has such opposing views to you.
I really struggled after Brexit, as it felt so personal. I couldn’t begin to imagine how or why people had voted to leave the EU. With time I realised that everyone has their own agenda. Everyone has their own reasons to be attracted to an idea or a person.
I know a lot of women were able to overlook Trump’s misogynistic remarks and behaviour in favour of a man who (they believe) will make a big change. Which for them is obviously their biggest worry right now.
You can argue with these people. You can put your point across. But the deed has been done. Whether they still agree with their vote or regret it, you arguing about it won’t change a single thing.
It is likely you will never understand why some people voted the way they did. But you’ll never change it.
So my suggestion, as hard as it might seem, is to politely agree to disagree. Unless you want to lose that friendship / family member. In life in general I like to argue my point and love a good debate, but I think when something is this huge and emotional you have to let it go.
What about the rise in racism and sexism?
My biggest issue with both the pro-Brexit and Trump’s campaigning was the normalisation of racist rhetoric. The xenophobes came out of the closet en masse.
I don’t really care if Trump or Nigel Farage are racist. But the fact they got away with sharing this propaganda in the mainstream media shocks the hell out of me.
Never in my 40 years have I heard such xenophobic speeches – talk of “sending people back” and “building a wall”. It’s hard to believe that we are talking about politicians’ proposals in 2016.
Whilst every rational person knows that there will be no “sending back” and no “building walls”, sadly many people believe they will “get their white country back” and have seen this as a green light to harass non-white people on the street.
And the thing is, it’s not just the politicians spouting this. It’s the guy next door too. It’s repeated to children, who are going on to threaten and bully classmates.
In addition to the racism of Trump (as if that weren’t enough) you also have his total disrespect for women (despite being a father to daughters!).
The message that the election of an outrightly sexist man to the highest office in the world sends to our girls doesn’t bear thinking about.
But even worse is the message it sends to boys and men:
“Anything goes! It’s just a bit of fun!”
Suddenly we are in a world where violent porn is easily available to young men, and where the US president has not only condoned but actually encouraged going after women, not taking no for an answer and judging women solely on their appearance and breast size.
What can I do about it?
There is not a great deal you can do about the man, who was democratically elected, taking office. After all this was no coup d’état. This was no dictator rolling to the White House in a tank.
Which means that an awful lot of people are feeling helpless, lost and like they’re stuck for the next 4 years. So what can YOU do about it?
It doesn’t matter who YOU are, there is always something you can do.
You might think you’re no one, a tiny drop in the ocean, that anything you do or say makes no difference.
That’s where you’re wrong.
If you feel at all political you can get involved in getting YOUR politics elected next time. Whether that means giving time or money, that’s one thing you can do.
However I know that most people are not political, if that’s you, what can YOU do?
- Don’t fight with someone over their politics. Free speech is for everyone. If you are allowed to express your opinions then so are they. Respectfully and politely disagree. (A million times lower down the scale than this: Ben is a HUGE heavy metal fan whilst I literally cannot stand heavy metal music. We’ve been together nearly 15 years now and no matter how much he tries to sell it to me, no matter how much I listen to his music it doesn’t change my view. I love him so much and respect him enormously but I still do not get the attraction. We’ve talked about it over and over again, but he’s not going to convert me and I respect his passion for his music whilst not understanding it one little bit. So music is one of those things we agree to disagree on.)
- When something happens that you disagree with, you can share your disagreement. Petition, join a demonstration, blog about it, make your voice heard.
- Next time round – educate yourself on the facts, vote and encourage others to do the same.
- Be the example you want to see in others. Do not condone racist or sexist behaviour. Better still, stand up for those being attacked. There has been a huge rise in racist attacks in the UK, but there has also been a rise of Brits standing up and defending those under attack. The more people who do this the stronger you are.
- Teach your children the worth of every single human, regardless of their skin colour, their cultural background, their religious beliefs or their gender. One of the things I loved about raising our kids in London was the huge cultural diversity we had there. When we chose to leave London it was an important factor when deciding where to move to, and here in Mauritius our girls are raised learning about the country’s three main religions (Hinduism, Islam and Christianity). And as whites we are the minority here…
My takeaway from the US election
It may feel like the end of the world but you cannot change the elected president.
Do what YOU can do.
Remember that free speech and free thought is for everyone, even when the opinion is the polar opposite to yours.
Get involved politically if you feel so inclined.
Through your everyday actions and words (including what you teach to your children) show love and respect for everyone around you – regardless of their political leanings, religious beliefs, skin colour, sexual orientation or gender.
You might have little to no impact on the actions of the current US president, but maybe your thoughtful words and actions are paving the way for a future president or change-maker.
Last but not least
Don’t forget to grieve. It sounds corny but “feel your feelings”. You are devastated, upset, in tears, unsure of the future, you feel let down. You are totally allowed to cry and to deal with your disappointment and frustration. You wanted and expected something so different, it’s only natural that you feel something akin to a bereavement.
Deal with those feelings, don’t run and hide from them. Once you feel better you can decide how you’ll take on the world / your little corner of the world!
Big love and hugs to everyone, it’s a funny old world we’re living in today, but if enough of us share love rather than hate think of the difference it could make 🙂
P.S. I am not opening the comments on this blog post as it always gets messy when it’s political. If you like it, by all means share it. If you don’t like it and need to voice your disagreement do message me privately.