Preparing to Heal Post-Election
Therapist in Bethesda, MD
After such a divisive, protracted, and psychologically taxing election process, many people are left reeling with shock, disappointment, rage, and fear. It’s important to note, though, that there are also a lot of people who feel relieved and grateful for the outcome of the election. No matter what your political stance is, it seems certain that drastic change in this country is inevitable. In the midst of that, it’s important to gird yourself with appropriate tools to ensure your safety and success. Here are some points to consider as the country begins to embark on this journey toward recovery.
- We really are stronger together. Black, brown, white, or purple, we are the voices of America. And we matter. Your thoughts, your concerns, your happiness, it all matters. Rather than focusing on how to divvy ourselves up into like-minded groups, let’s focus on how we can work together to effect change.
- This period of uncertainty is a prime opportunity to reflect and listen. Whose voices have been systematically silenced? How can we elevate them? What is the best way to work to understand the new path that the country has taken? How can you make sure that your voice is not silenced in the process?
- Don’t panic. Take action. I have heard several people stubbornly declare that they plan to leave America and skip off to XXX country. In reality, most of us do not have the privilege and resources to make such a drastic life change so quickly. Here’s another option: remember how diligently previous generations fought for their rights in this country? To leave now, when we need people to fight the most, is the antithesis of the American way. Speak up. Make your voice heard. Cry your tears, scream your outrage, then stand up and fight for what you believe in.
- Amidst all of this turmoil, remember that such drastic political changes have happened before.While more than half of the country was elated to elect President Obama (twice), there was a sizable portion of people who were baffled that he he had made it to the White House. For many, the tables have now turned. This happened with Reagan, this happened with Clinton, this happened with Bush. There’s no denying this is scary. But just like every other time, America will make it through this. Take comfort in knowing that the America you went to sleep knowing on Monday night is the same America that exists today…replete with beauty and flaws. This is not the end, and our journey as a country is far from over.
- Find your place. There’s no way to know what the next few years will bring, but I do know with absolute certainty that many marginalized groups will need a tremendous amount of support. Even if you are not part of a minority group, I am sure that you know and love people who are. How will you help them? What role will you take to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard? How can we unite so that we really are stronger together?
- Don’t give up on America. The experts have broken down the numbers and found that only about 50% of eligible voters actually went to the polls and cast their ballots. That means only about a quarter of the country was responsible for this very unexpected political turn. As the days have gone by and I’ve had time to digest this new reality, it’s become very clear to me that there’s an entire mass of people who feel angry, forgotten, and disenfranchised. If we don’t take the time to figure out how we got here, we run the risk of something similar (or worse) happening in this country in the future. Now is the time to do our part and fight for what we believe in.
- In the midst of this very uncertain time, please do not forget to take care of yourself. Surround yourself with supportive loved ones, find calming, safe spaces, perhaps start a new meditative practice. Seek out a therapist and use that safe space to express your concerns. Set limits on how much you can/want to take in from media outlets so that you are not totally overwhelmed by the constant coverage. And when you feel centered, begin the process of listening to people who don’t look like you and whose views you may not fully understand. It will be uncomfortable, but as we learn to heal as a country, it is necessary to go beyond ourselves to effect larger systemic and institutionalized change from the bottom up and from the top down.
In closing, as a person of color who did not vote for Trump, I can honestly say that the sinking feeling of dread that settled at the pit of my stomach as the election results rolled in on Tuesday night has not fully dissipated. I am fortunate enough to have several people around me who share my sentiments and can offer support. And I know that as a therapist, it is imperative that I remain a beacon of hope, support, and encouragement for my clients who are swirling in the abyss of confusion and fear that has enveloped many of us.
As you work to heal, know that you are not alone. And, most importantly, know that you matter. Whether you’re black, brown, cis, trans, heterosexual, LGBT, Muslim, Christian, or any other identity, you are important. Never forget that we truly are better, stronger, and more impactful together. If we stand in unity and solidarity with one another, I can say with full confidence that we will survive this.
Shy Porter provides couple, family, and individual therapy at Lindsey Hoskins & Associates in downtown Bethesda, MD. Call or email today to set up a complimentary telephone consultation or initial appointment! firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-752-7650, ext. 6.