These suggestions go roughly in order of how strong and emotionally regulated you’re feeling right now. That’s not bad or good. We all go through periods where we’re able and available for more or less. So if you get to the next suggestion and you’re like “Whoa! That’s a lot. I don’t know about that,” then stop at the previous step.
As always, know thyself. This may help you get started.
Get off social media
If you’re feeling tense, anxious, foggy, angry, or generally unlike yourself, remember this: your presence on social media will not change the results. There is nothing to be gained by the scroll. You do not have some moral obligation to be here to monitor the crazy. Go. Do. You.
Have a plan for what to do tomorrow (Election Day)
Consuming any media tomorrow is for only two reasons: 1) your education (i.e. I am learning something that I can take action on) or 2) your entertainment. If you don’t want to be “entertained” by the incessant nail-biting, go do something that’s actually fun/interesting/good for you. Decide NOW how you want to be spending your time tomorrow and set things up appropriately (do you need supplies for a hobby? a bottle of wine for the bath? a new book to read?). And if need be, set timers/alarms for when you’ll check in on results. DO IT NOW.
Have a plan for Wednesday
Do you need space if results aren’t in your favor? A person to process with? What comforts you when shit goes awry? Have that ready to go. And be prepared to need that for a while. You will more confidently trust yourself to handle uncertainty if you lay out your resources NOW. What make you feel safe and stable? Could be anything from talking to your mom to making a handful more sales to exercising or baking all day. Who are your safe people who you can say your less-enlightened, less-kind, unfiltered thoughts with? Go there first (and ask them if they’re currently able to support you before diving straight in).
Check in with your body
Understand that for many people, the election kicks them into survival mode (over-simplistically, Fight or Flight). Can you get curious about the nuances of your election-based fears? It’s not as simple as “I’m a woman and want the right to determine what to do with my body,” or “I want my gay friends to never have to worry about the legitimacy of their marriage,” or “I don’t want to lose my right to bear arms to an inflated government,” or or or. Those are the broad fears of a group. What is YOUR fear? What makes this personal to you? What experiences have you lived through that you want to prevent in the future? What have you seen others go through or what seems impossible to survive (physically or emotionally)? What’s your worst case scenario? (And then call your therapist to work through that)
Don’t be an asshole
How will you react or respond if results go the way you prefer? Results that you like are not an opportunity to show other people that you were on the “winning” side and are thus a winner (and by extension, not a loser, like those other people over there). Ultimately, remember that there are no “other people.” We will all be living with the government that WE elected. Act accordingly.
Know the rules of engagement
If you’re going to open the door to public discussions, have some ground rules for yourself.
- Decide up front if or what comments you will leave or delete. Your platform, your rules, but be mindful and consider sharing your rules up front.
- Boundary pushers get less words. The more you say, the more ammo you give a person who’s intent on “convincing” you.
- Facilitate from a place of curiosity, not correctness, unless you’re up front about who what you’re saying is for.
- You get to close the door of this discussion at any time. Your well-being comes first (that being said, if you’re concerned about that going into this, maybe reconsider opening the conversation to begin with).
Hold space and find middle ground
We’ve collectively forgotten to come at our problems from a place of You + Me vs. This Problem (and are instead inclined to think in terms of Me vs. You-Who-Are-Part-Of-The-Problem). A few things to remember: those who are loudest are so because they need to be seen and heard. They too are in Survival Mode, which will never be regulated with logic. It doesn’t matter if you’re “right” or if your perspective “just makes sense.”
The fastest way to create middle ground and help another person feel seen (and thus, less defensive) is by agreeing with them (and there is always SOME facet that you can agree on, even if it’s just that you both care a lot about this particular topic). You don’t have to agree with all or even most to begin making progress with a tiny bit of common ground. “I understand that…” “I can see that…” “I also agreed that…” are good places to start. And when it’s time to share your perspective, it’s YOUR perspective (“I feel like…” “I have experienced…” “I perceive that…”). We can teach our political leaders how we expect them to engage with one another by how we engage with each other.