In the now three-week wake of the recent U.S. election outcome, people, on both sides of the aisle, are still feeling unsettled, sad, angry, and divided, with families splitting, increased hate speech and crimes, and protests continuing in response to one of the most divisive campaigns from a presidential candidate and now President-elect in history.
So how in the world, you ask, is this healing?
I’ll tell you…it’s because we are finally viewing our collective national and ancestral wounds out in the open.
They are emerging front and center, whether we like it or not, and we are finally having a good, long look at the pain and division under the collective surface. One of the first principles of any good therapy or healing work is that we cannot heal what we are unaware of. Whether you ascribe to cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic theory, or spiritual shadow work, one cannot change what remains hidden and avoided, whether you label them as negative core beliefs, unconscious wounding, or the”shadow self.” It’s the first step in the process of acknowledging, “yes, there is a problem, and yes, I am willing to look at it.”
So, we are no longer sweeping it under the carpet…
Hello, my name is America, and I am an ego-aholic. I have rage. I have self-hatred. I have bitterness. I have intolerance. I have sadness. I am divided within myself.
So is there hope? Can we be healed?
The answer is yes. Healing is always available….and eventually even inevitable. We are part of a greater collective process that is digging up old, unacknowledged pain, and we are also each individuals who hold great power with our words, emotions, actions, and deeds…the keys to the ultimate outcome. Rather than latching on to despair or frustration, we need to acknowledge that this is the first step in an ultimately positive healing process, despite not feeling good, or even understandable, in the moment. We need to hold hope and love front and center, even when others around us can’t.
So how can we initiate this healing process for ourselves? Here are the real tangible steps that have been resonating with me after this election outcome:
- Allow your full range and expression of emotions. Sometimes before we can get to the “feeling hopeful” stage of healing we need to feel whatever it is we need to feel. So if it’s anger, we may need to vent on Facebook, cry, or pour our hearts out to our friends about our fear and insecurities in a changing world. Nothing is off limits or makes us a bad person just because we feel it. Acting out on aggression or rage, however, are not the answers here. We are learning, as a nation, that what we put out in the world comes back to us pretty quickly. So feel your full range of human experience, and let it flow through it, don’t let it rule you.
- Find commonalities. Spread Tolerance. If there is one thing that this election has highlighted for us is that we are all coming to the table with very different life views, experiences, and value systems, which sometimes don’t make sense when put all together. We can even have conflicting and shifting viewpoints within ourselves, and individuals, we are learning, can have very different reasons for voting for the same candidate. So no one is the same, no one can be painted with a broad brush, no one can be placed into a box of his or her ethnicity, gender, age, or place of birth. Red states and blue states are filled with purple people who mostly have commonalities at the core of our beings when we start talking. We have been falsely divided through a broken electoral system, media and political polarization, and our own insistence on associating mostly with others of the same viewpoints….most Americans, when you really get to the heart of it, just want a peaceful and prosperous world to live in. And then, there are certain segments of the population who feel emboldened by the election outcome to express their hatred and intolerance openly. This has no place in a healed world. No one should be threatened, demonized or isolated based on the color of their skin, gender, sexuality, place of birth, religious stripes or their ballot choice. More hate and anger will not combat this. We owe it to each other and our country to start filling our spaces with love, tolerance, compassion, and take no shit in the process. Strength and empathy can exist in the same space. Be the change you wish to see in the world…it is the only thing that will combat the fear that emerging from the collective consciousness.
- Give Action (Don’t Take Action). Part of the process of waking up from within is deciding where you wish to place your energy. Where is it most valuable? What do you most care about? Where is your energy leading you? We are most used to expending our energy for our “shoulds” in life (i.e. doing our homework, getting a degree, house + 3 kids + dog). ‘Taking’ action is as if there is something outside of us, pulling us, leading us in all the expected directions. Now is the time to go inside and find where the action wishes to spring from within you. ‘Giving’ action means directing your energy towards the situations, places, and people most calling to you. Do you care passionately about environmental reform? education? economic issues? food? arts? our healthcare system? Is your energy leading you to be more creative, paint, dance, run, spend time with your children, write a novel? Focus on what you wish to create in the world rather than what you wish to protest against. Follow your chosen cause or mission with all of the passion it deserves, and don’t let anyone tell you what you ‘should’ be doing, because that’s what’s right for them, not you. Trust your inner navigation system.
Which lead me to the last…
- Be your own leader. Most of all, this election outcome has shown us that it’s time to stop giving our power away to others…to government, to a man in a golden tower, to those you view as having more of what you want or need. The system is broken. So it’s time to take responsibility for ourselves, our words, and our actions. The only real change available to us comes from within ourselves. How do you want to live? How do you want to move forward? What do you want in your community? Do you want to be someone who makes life decisions from love or from fear? Do you want to be kind, empathic, active, strong? Do we want to start growing up to be spiritual adults who recognize that no one controls our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes except ourselves?
In the aftermath of the election results, it’s clear that we are waking up. People are speaking up for the rights of others, the secret Clinton Facebook group, Pantsuit Nation, continues to thrive, and there’s been an unprecedented increase in the amount of donations to nonprofit organizations, according to the Washington Post. So, we have the power to manifest the future we wish to see, regardless of what figurehead stands in the White House….with strength, with voice, with peace, with persistence, with dignity, with individual action, and compassion for a roundtable of belief systems that may not fit together perfectly at times. It’s time to start being the leader in your own life that you wished we were able to choose in this election cycle.
It’s time to allow the healing to occur.