How to Cope with Election and Post-Election Emotions

A guided meditation and the tools of mindful self-compassion.

Posted Nov 05, 2020

On November 4, 2020, I spoke to the San Jose Chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals on coping with post-election stress and difficult emotions. Here is the YouTube video of the presentation, which includes a guided meditation, a didactic portion, and questions and answers. I hope this helps you on your journey.

Post Election De-Stress with Dr. Ravi Chandra starts at minute four.

They’re still counting ballots, and President Trump and his allies have pressed forth with legal challenges to results. I’m deeply grateful that I have not heard major reports of violence during the election, but in the current atmosphere, this is a threat.  

Words by Ravi Chandra
Source: Words by Ravi Chandra

We are on shaky ground as a country as we’ve allowed the creation of conditions for this level of instability and uncertainty. It’s profoundly disturbing to me as a citizen that the rules of democracy are held so lightly by those who could contain the executive branch. But it’s a reminder that America has always been, to its marginalized, a culture of money and power, and abusive power at that. More of us now are experiencing what it feels like to be subordinated, subjugated, oppressed, and marginalized. This naturally leads to disaffected emotions – ranging from anxiety, anger, and outrage, to hostility, resentment, bitterness, frustration, isolation, despair, grief, regret, sadness, disappointment … or even a deep acceptance that this country has not surprised us by coming out as vehemently anti-racist, anti-bullying, or anti-hatred, that it is easily misled by propaganda, red-baiting, fear-mongering and scapegoating.

It's a sad day for our country when we have to face the "divide and conquer" power law from within, and "unite and heal" has to work so hard against the pressure of fear. Fear, confusion, and resistance are understandable in a time when we're dealing with demographic, technological, climate, international change, and the health and societal challenges of COVID. It's only natural for many to resist what to them is unknown by clinging to their certainties, whether of religion, single-issue voting, or a narrow form of White identity. But we have to have each others' backs as citizens to take on the challenges. I am cautiously optimistic, because I know that by and large, even the people who voted differently than me are still interested in getting along with their neighbors and the rest of the country. As I say in the quote highlighted above, though, we are made to feel like we are meeting each other anew — and this is frightening for some. Some of our political leaders gin up our fears against each other, though research shows we are not as polarized as the extremes would have us believe.

There are many long-term questions we face as a democracy to restore freedom of mind, but in the meantime, how might we deal with these difficult emotions? 

The tools of mindful self-compassion offer great support. I believe compassion and self-compassion are anti-oppressive tools, because oppression involves subjugating, subordinating, and dehumanizing people. Compassion re-humanizes us and brings us to a more stable relatedness. Self-compassion allows us to name our emotions, relate to them, and work with them productively. We can increase our receptive and collaborative capacity for our inner life. Ultimately this helps us boost resilience and prevent burnout as we work towards a society that lives its stated values of equality, equal protection under the law, separation of church and state, human dignity, and liberty.

I hope you enjoy the video presentation.

For more anti-oppressive, psychologically minded writing, see my East Wind eZine blog series written at my corner of the intersection of Black and Asian lives. 

(c) 2020 Ravi Chandra, M.D., D.F.A.P.A.