How To Thrive After an Election

In any election, someone wins – and someone loses.

Better way sign

If your candidate wins, you’re happy.  If your candidate loses, you’re disappointed.

Before an election, we’re surrounded by opposing opinions.  People feel strongly about issues, candidates and propositions.  Campaigns spend millions of dollars to convince us that they’re right and the other side is wrong.  The attacks become vicious, spurring people to feel more and more negative about each other.  Even Facebook allows people to share opinions more strongly than they would if they were looking someone in the eye.

Once the election is over, the winners take office and the losers go into obscurity.  Life goes on, and we adjust to the new political environment.

Here’s the problem: Some people can’t get over the election.

They maintain their bitterness, and continue to attack the newly-elected officials.  They continue to guide every conversation toward the negative state of the world.

They’ve become victims.

Better way signThey’ve given the control of their emotions to the very people they’re most upset with.  They don’t realize it’s happening, and feel justified in constantly critiquing everything that occurs.  They think it’s a sign of strength — but it’s actually a symptom of weakness.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be involved in influencing our society in any way we can.  But constant criticism doesn’t usually change anything.  In fact, it usually robs us of the energy we could put into doing something constructive about it.

Someone said that holding onto anger or bitterness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.  It doesn’t do anything to them, but it can destroy us.

So once the election is over, what can we do to keep from being a victim?  Consider these perspectives:

  • Don’t hate the President.  It doesn’t matter if you voted for him or not; he is the president.  For most of us, nothing we do will change that fact for the next four years.  Get over it.  Accept it.
  • View elected leaders realistically.  We might totally disagree with their policies.  But to stay balanced, we need to acknowledge it when they make a good decision and do something well.  Leaders are influenced more by encouragement than by criticism (that’s true of us as well).  Try sending them a note to affirm them when you can, instead of just when they mess up.
  • Be proactive rather than reactive.   We need to take responsibility for our reactions and choices, rather than simply feeling like victims of other people’s decisions.  The President is the leader of the country, but we can be the leaders of our own lives – no matter what choices he makes.
  • Quit talking and start doing.  Complaining robs us of energy to make a difference, and tends to drive people away.  We all have gifts and strengths, and we all have a sphere of influence where we can have an impact.  It’s really hard to change the world (it doesn’t cooperate very well).  But if I change myself, I might influence others, who carry that influence to others, and might end up changing the world.
  • Be grateful.  OK, so the country is messed up in a lot of ways.  But we’re free.  We can make choices and take action – something that’s restricted in many parts of the world.  Think what would happen if we started every day by writing down something we’re grateful for.  After a few months, our attitude could be transformed.  It won’t minimize the problems, but helps us see them realistically and in balance.
  • Realize that we can change our lives.  Taxes might go up, and economic policies might impact our income.  But we all have the ability to make different choices in our lives that can move us beyond where we are.  We don’t have to be victims. We can be different tomorrow than we are today, and we can move out of our current situation – one simple step at a time.

After the election, it’s a new day.  Maybe it turned out the way we hoped.  If it didn’t, are we going to get stuck in our disappointment, or can we accept the reality – and influence the change we desire?

  • Linda

    Great words Mike. We’re seem to be – regardless of ideologies – the recipients of 24/7 fear-based talking points and it certainly takes a toll on all of us. Thanks for your wise and timely words. I might add this: The sun will come up tomorrow regardless of who or what wins or loses. And, I am still free to to figure out how to navigate tomorrow’s challenges and blessings. It’s good to live in the United States of America!

    • You were right . . . I checked . . . the sun DID come up on Wednesday! Good reminder.

  • Dan

    Great perspective Mike! But can’t I just whine for a minute if my candidate doesn’t win ?? 🙂 I promise, then I’ll move on!!