In a recent discussion on my Facebook group “You Are Stronger Than You Know”, the subject of forgiveness came up. But this wasn’t your typical forgiveness conversation…this was one about how to forgive our friends, loved ones, and colleagues for the stuff that’s been uncovered or stirred up during this unusually divisive political climate.
The recent level of vitriol had certainly made it very difficult to have conversations about politics these days without emotions running high. I'm not going to pretend I have all the answers but do have a couple of thoughts on the subject. I understand how hard it is when you feel betrayed by others. Even though it's not "personal" it certainly feels that way, doesn’t it?
1. Channel your hurt/anger
Is there a way you can channel your strong emotions into something positive, constructive? Doing something for others is very rewarding and it benefits you and the people you help. Volunteer your time for something that will make a positive difference, something that you care about. It doesn’t have to be political (but it certainly can be), there are lots of volunteer opportunities all over the country. Here is a resource that helps you “Find a cause that lights you up”.
Doing good and volunteering have many side benefits too, here are a few:
- Reduced Stress
- Better overall happiness
- It feels really good (which is so much better than being angry & bitter!)
2. Try to understand the others points of view
Another idea (bear with me here) is to try to understand the others points of view. Not to agree with them, but to simply understand where they are coming from. There is a lot of fear and fear-mongering going around these days and fear can do crazy things to people. I know how hard this can be…emotions are running really high. People we know and love are supporting a candidate who is against everything we believe in, even who we are, and that’s incredibly difficult to swallow. Why do they feel that way? Do my friends and family hate me because I’m gay/Hispanic/a woman/an immigrant/_____(fill in the blank). For the record, I fall into three of the four categories I just mentioned so I too am feeling threatened and scared. Despite this fear (or maybe because of it), I need answers.
I read this interesting article the other day, it might help with understanding other’s points of view…
Yup, I said it…meditate. I know I probably lost some of you there but, if you’re still reading let me explain! There is scientific proof that meditation improves and grows your brain. I swear…Harvard affiliated researchers (yes, that Harvard) did a study at Massachusetts General and proved that mediation resulted in measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. You can read the results here or, for the visual learners among us, watch Sara Lazar’s Tedx talk on Youtube. If you prefer a celebrity endorsement, watch Dan Harris from GMA talk about the impact meditation has had in his life.
I have first-hand experience with this too. I’ve been meditating for about a year now and I can tell you that it has seriously changed my stress and frustration levels. Ask anyone that knows me if they’re surprised at my level of restraint on Social Media about the topic of this year’s election and you will likely get a resounding YES! A year ago, I would have been arguing and yelling and been hyper-defensive. Today, because of meditation, I’m able to control my emotions…Do I have strong feelings about it? You bet! Do I sometimes want to rant & scream and shout WHY??? Absolutely. But I don’t. Because here's one thing I know for sure, having arguments about these things doesn't change minds, in fact it's more likely to make everyone dig in their heels. If we listen, and then share ideas (backed up with facts and relatable personal stories) the conversations can be much more civil and maybe, just maybe, someone’s heart will be opened and a glimmer of hope for a new level of understanding can be born.
4. Take a break
Take a break from Social Media, from the news, from the political conversations…really! There is so much anger & hate going around, sometimes you just need a break! A friend of mine recently swore off Facebook for a while and says it’s been a game changer! So, give it a try. When you do, see if you can measure your stress levels (if you can’t gauge for yourself, ask the people who live with you!). Are you less irritable, less angry if you stay away from the noise? I bet you are!
Bottom line - you need to love yourself enough to be authentically you. That doesn’t mean you should dismiss everyone else’s point of view, quite the opposite. If you love yourself enough, you can listen to others without feeling threatened or diminished. If you are comfortable in your own skin, your emotions are much less likely to get out of control. You can still disagree, and even debate, but you can do so without getting heated. And if the other person can’t keep their cool, just walk away…it’s not worth your dignity!
Be kind to one-another
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