Disclaimer: This post is for all of us living in Grown-up Land. If you haven’t arrived, that’s okay. Visit my post from August to help you get there, so you can hang with all of us grown ups. Secondly, this is framed for the coming election, but applies to ALL situations where beliefs between individuals are impassioned and at odds.
‘Tis the season… Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, you ask?
Nope, I’m referring to the 2020 election season.
You may have already had a visceral reaction to the idea…eye roll, maybe? Well, trust me, sides will be chosen (unfortunately, not to Sunday dinner), offenses will be taken. Family and friendships may not ever be the same post-November 2020. But it doesn’t have be. You and your family/friends can emerge on the other side of November 2020 intact, and maybe even better than before.
Here are a few things to remember to make it through this one-year marathon, known as election season.
– Breathing is your best friend. When things get stressful and someone is standing (maybe even jumping) on your LAST nerve, take a deep breath in…4 seconds in and 6 seconds out. Repeat as necessary.
– This too shall pass. I know when you’re in it, it feels like eternity. But this season will be over soon enough. It won’t last forever.
– Remember before election season, when you and your mom, dad, cousin, or friend hung out? Maybe you went to lunch, or to cookouts, or to museums? Yeah, that person is still THAT person… remember that.
– If you can’t escape the conversations that irritate you and disturb you the most, create a no judgement zone where you and your peeps agree to express beliefs and opinions without judgement, and promise that it won’t be held against them at a later date. SERIOUSLY, NO JUDGEMENT. That is a two-way street. Pro-life/pro-choice, open/closed border, climate change believer or not; people are people (a ball of emotions and hormones – yes, that applies to men as well) and they have experiences that help them form their beliefs. News flash: they aren’t always aligned with your beliefs, common sense, or logic. So, yeah, no judgement.
– You can’t make significant change if you’re unwilling to hear, listen, and empathize with the experiences of another person, experiences which have shaped their current belief system. Shift your paradigm, and enter conversations with the specific objective to understand. People’s behavior is not as random or thoughtless as we sometimes tend to think. Seek to understand how and why they believe as they do, and you may even gain some insights about yourself in the process.
-Remember candidates work with their opposition everyday…even grab lunch and dinner with them. That’s part of living and thriving in Grown-up Land (refer back to my August post for more on that).
-Block time to focus on the things that give you joy. That means creating boundaries for yourself for when you will allow the news and media into your mental space.
– Remember The Serenity Prayer “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Focus your energy on the things that are wholly in your control…basically, that is you and only you.
– Use your words. Words like, “we can agree to disagree”. The phrase has been around since the beginning of time, which is why humanity is still standing. Use it, you don’t have to continue to engage. As much as you aren’t changing your views from this vivid discussion, neither are they. You’ve heard the “facts”, no matter how lame you think they are, so recognize when it’s time to say “Let’s just move on, why don’t we?”
You can choose not to let toxic political cycles poison you and your relationships. Take a moment and write down a few of these reminders, maybe carry them in your wallet like flash cards and refer back to them when you’re in a tough situation. Just regularly reviewing a few of these concepts can help you recenter your focus and renew your commitment to grow and improve always and in all ways.