All of us deserve to experience and express our feelings regarding the presidential election, regardless of our political affiliation, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. It is natural to feel disappointed, sad, angry, fearful, grief and hurt around what we hoped and wanted to happen, but didn’t.
If Secretary Clinton had won the presidential election, I would be saying the same exact thing for Trump supporters. Coming together as a nation does not only mean supporting the presidential elect. It means supporting and allowing the feelings that everyone has, and holding the space for those feelings.
Sticking Up for Positive Expression
The protests that have been occurring in major cities, including New York, is one way of expressing and releasing feelings. It is one of the emotionally healthy ways to do so except, of course, for those who are acting out violently, which is unacceptable.
There is a movement that started pre-election in New York City by Matt Chavez. After observing the somber mood of the people in the subway under 14th Street, he encouraged others to express their feelings on post it notes and then to place these notes on the subway walls. Validating many people’s desperate need to communicate their thoughts and emotions, more than 2,000 people utilized this creative method to share their feelings in this neutral manner.
Paving Your Destination to Acceptance
The only way that people who wanted a different outcome will be able to truly accept what is, is to be allowed their feelings. This is not a new concept, or only specifically related to the election. Allowing, and accepting, the healthy expression of feelings is a necessity to continue to embrace positive growth in life. If we are struggling with an issue, and having difficulty accepting it, whether it be …
- A relationship ending
- A loss of a job
- A medical illness
- The death of a loved one
…before we are able to accept the reality, we need to go through a process. We need to feel and express our feelings. This is the pathway to the destination of acceptance. There is no specific defined time frame. It happens in each individual’s own time.
This too, is a process and cannot be rushed. During this campaign there was more complexity than any other time in history. Both candidates presented us with something new to consider and much to process. Not only was a woman running in the forefront for the first time for president from a major political party, the other was not your usual candidate, but instead a business man without political experience.
Two Sides to Every Story
This week so many of the people I work with in my psychotherapy practice talked about how they are emotionally affected by the outcome of the presidential election.
Some are experiencing:
- A sense of loss,
- A lack of safety,
- The loss of their dream of the first woman president
- The disappointment from hoping the glass ceiling for women was going to be broken
- Despair in the defeat of someone who represented their hope and dream for something more
- Unease about the issues of ethnicity, and sexual orientation, that came up during the election
While others have expressed excitement by the presidential outcome and the prospect of having a non-politician in the white house and what that may mean for them.
Together We Can Recover from the Aftershock
I encourage each of us to make a real effort to hear, understand, and respect the feelings and views of others, even when it feels impossible to do so. This may be the only way to truly come together.
Some of my psychotherapy clients have trauma in their history. They may have suffered from sexual abuse, sexual assault or harassment, or were victims of racial, or sexual orientation bias. They have had these previous distresses triggered because some of what was occurring during the election activated old wounds.
While others are elated and hopeful by the views and promises made by Donald Trump.
Home is Where the Healing Begins
All of us deserve to have our feelings and our voices heard. The uncertainty of what comes next, and the fear of a loss of control, may have us acting out where we feel we can safely do so, at home.
“At any given time, much of our suffering comes not from the moment we are in, but instead from our projection of what will happen in the future. In reality, we have no idea what will happen next.” ~Allison Carmen, Author of The Gift of Maybe.
Unfortunately, many of us have taken our very intense feelings to our most intimate spaces, and to our extended family and friends. So while the election may have ended, the rift created by arguing amongst our loved ones has yet to be repaired.
The Path to Hope
When someone is truly invested in a political candidate, as many of us have been, and what each candidate stands for, feelings are bound to be experienced deeply, particularly when the person they were rooting for did not win and their dream was not realized.
With any dream or loss, feelings cannot be shut off like a light switch. In fact, that would be emotionally unhealthy to happen. The path to hope, healing acceptance, and coming together, is allowing ourselves, and others, to experience and process our feelings by not minimizing or suppressing them.
Some people may have been made fun of, or made fun of others, and ridiculed those who are demonstrating or expressing intense feelings about what has happened. If we give ourselves, and others, time to process our feelings, it will be more possible to come to a place of acceptance of what is, and for us to move forward and come together with our families, and as a nation.
If you struggle with coming to terms with the results of the election, are experiencing historical wounds that have been activated by it, or the loss of another cherished dream, speaking with a trusted psychotherapist at Nassau Guidance and Counseling located on Long Island can help you begin the steps to healing. Our licensed therapists have helped many people find methods to positively express their feelings, emotionally heal, and deal with loss.