You Can’t Always Get What You Want !
Vigorously choosing a healthy perspective in the face of disappointment.
Posted November 15, 2016
When it became clear that Donald Trump was the President-Elect, a great number of American citizens celebrated, and a great many felt painful emotions. Some felt shocked, others enraged, others depressed and despondent.
However in the spirit of 'Healer Heal Thyself', I hope that as many of us as possible who work in the helping professions, and those who don't, will, at the same time as honoring our personal feelings, push to remind ourselves to adopt healthy and realistic perspectives on the situation. This will benefit us, particularly when speaking with others - clients, friends or family.
A number of attitudes come to my mind, some rather obvious perhaps - forgive me if so, but I'll include them nonetheless:
* Let's make effort to feel empathy for those who feel deep sadness, whilst not begrudging the satisfaction of those who voted for the President-Elect.
* Before catastrophizing, let us realize that although many people were disgusted by some words spoken by the President-Elect during the lead up to the election, we do not have evidence that he will continue to behave in the worst of ways.
Perhaps some good decisions will be made, and perhaps some of the election vows that many found repulsive and terrifying will not be acted upon. Perhaps some of those vows will be modified. Perhaps life won't be as bad as many people who wanted Hillary Clinton to win, and are now suffering emotional distress, might fear.
We do not know yet, and cannot know now.
The past does not always predict the future.
And if some things turn out to be as bad or worse as some dread - let's remember that the term of the presidency is not forever. Four years.
* And again - Perspective! If the lives of people currently in grief about the election were literally on the line, if they were in hospital injured, ill and fighting to live - would these people who are now in such grief about an upcoming President, feel as much - or any - grief about the political situation?
Let's keep things in healthy and realistic perspective, remembering life's priorities.
* Good and bad things happen in our world, no matter who the President is or will be.
* Therapists who feel deeply distressed and distracted by the election outcome - may serve themselves and others well if they make effort to create greater inner equanimity, and remember to do their best to model healthy attitudes for their clients and others, by:
(i) Accepting (though not necessarily liking) what has happened, accepting that millions voted the way they voted, accepting what cannot be changed at this juncture, taking action to change what can be changed in the here and now - and going forward... remembering each day to focus on what is good in their lives.
(ii) Remembering that our attitudes are what will either maintain, increase, and magnify painful emotions, or what will allow us to feel what we feel and prompt us to use those emotions as fuel to healthily motivate our actions as and when we choose. (iii)Remembering to make ongoing effort to keep realistic optimism alive, no matter how grim any circumstance appears.
It is important, and enriching, to fight any hopelessness within us no matter what the circumstance in life, and to do our best to inspire others to do the same.
People in shock can choose to complain and wail about what can't - for the moment - be changed, or can choose to hope for the best, and can make effort to detach somewhat by taking on a position of observer.
It won't be boring.
Who knows- maybe they'll be amazingly surprised !!
And if not - the time of the next election will come.
For many people of any political persuasion, it may be inspiring to observe how elegantly, rationally, and wisely President Obama is handling this time of transition. He models respectful behavior in accepting, with grace, what is certainly not his preference.
Let's cherish what is good in our lives, remember to do so daily, and dispute life-zapping thoughts, attitudes and perspectives.
Let's CHOOSE to focus on and enjoy what is good - despite and including any disappointments and the daily uncertainties of life and living !