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Facing post-election depression? Don’t give in to fear

Question:

I’m concerned about our nation in the wake of this election. Our country is in trouble and I don’t have much confidence in this president to fix things. There is a dark cloud of discouragement and sadness hanging over me in regards to our future. I foresee more stalemates in congress and more debt. Do you have any advice on changing how negatively I feel about the president, the people in the other party and the next four years?

Answer:

Many Mitt Romney supporters are feeling a post-election depression this week. It may even feel like the solid ground they were standing on has been pulled out from under them.

To repair this and escape the depression you are feeling, you must find some new solid ground, escape fear and choose trust and love.

The negative campaign ads are to partly to blame for the fear you are experiencing. The campaigns purposely encouraged suspicion and distrust toward the other party. The people behind these ads wanted you to feel threatened and scared about “the other guy” and his ideas.

The problem is, if we continue on this course of fearing each other, we won’t be able to come together and create the brighter future we all desire. Healing this division in our country must start with each of us changing the way we think about the people on the other side.

If we want Congress and the president to reach across the aisle and heal the nation, we must first reach across the street and heal the animosity we feel toward our neighbors with “the other guys’” signs in their yard. We must stop casting them as the bad guys.

It may be helpful to understand why we do this. We, as human beings, have an innate tendency to make other people out to be the bad guys so we can feel like the good guys. This tendency is responsible for most of the conflicts we have.

Whenever there is a group of people we don’t understand (be it for differences in race, religion or ideology) we experience fear about them and we subconsciously cast them as the bad guys.

The campaign ads have used this tendency against us. They also played off your fear of loss and your fear of safety, which are the core fears that drive your behavior.

We do most of what we do because we are afraid of losing what we have — afraid of failing, being taken from, being rejected or just not being good enough, safe or secure. What we want, more than anything, is to feel safe.

The campaigns understood this fear and wanted you to see “the other guy” as a threat to your safety. They have encouraged you to fear this person and everyone who supports him. They have encouraged you to see your fellow Americans as the enemy.

They aren’t the enemy.

Now, that this election is over, it’s time to heal this divide. It’s time to focus on what we have in common. It is also time to understand where a feeling of safety really comes from and choose trust and love over fear.

Here are three ways you can change your mindset and feel better:

1. Choose to see other people as the same as you.

There is no way “the other guy” is as bad or evil as the campaign has painted him. He may think differently than you do, but he is not a bad person.

The people in the opposing party who support “the other guy” are inherently good and loving people, too.They have different opinions because they’ve had different life experiences, but in many ways they are the same as you.

They are scared, struggling, amazing, divine human beings doing the best they can with what they know at the time, and they desire safety and success as much as you do. Just because they don’t see the world the way you do — and maybe can’t see it the way you do — doesn’t make them bad people.

When you choose to see them as the same as you, it will take some of the fear out of this situation.

Let’s focus on the ways we are the same. We all want a prosperous nation and more good jobs. We all want a strong nation guided by hope, liberty and true principles. We all want to help the less fortunate and those in need. We all want to get out of debt and provide a more secure future for our children. We all want a government that’s for the people and by the people. We all value freedom and love our country.

If we could set aside the differences and focus on what we have in common, we could unite ourselves and once again be the United States of America instead of the Divided.

2. Choose trust instead of fear:

Remember, your desire to feel safe is behind your feelings of fear. You were hoping that by electing the candidate you trusted most, you would feel safe. When that didn’t happen, your fear got bigger.

The problem is, a feeling of safety doesn’t come from having a certain candidate in office. A feeling of safety comes from choosing to trust that things will be OK.

Choosing trust, hope and optimism makes you feel safe. That is why courageous people can feel safe even in dangerous situations.

It doesn’t matter to which religion you belong, or even if you have one; everyone can choose to trust that a higher power is in charge, or you can trust the universe, life and the American spirit. You can trust the drive, ingenuity and creativity of the American people. You can choose to trust that good people, committed to true principles, can create good outcomes. You can choose to trust that things will be OK if we keep working to turn them around.

Even when things go wrong, you can trust there’s a reason why things went the way they went, and choose to trust and feel safe anyway.

Trust is a choice you can make any time you want, and it’s a good choice because the only other choice is fear — and fear does you no good.

This is the bottom line: The future is unknown. Things could get better or things could get worse, but standing in this moment you only have two choices: You can choose to trust things will be OK or you can choose to be afraid.

Your choice will not affect what happens in the future; t will be what it will be. But your choice will greatly affect the quality of your life today.

It will affect your relationships and the way you interact with other people. It will affect your ability to focus and work effectively. Fear (if you choose to embrace it) will skew the way you see your life, and your negative energy may attract more problems.

I recommend choosing trust, hope and optimism, even though things didn’t turn out the way you hoped.

3. Choose love instead of fear.

Discouragement, depression and fear are very selfish emotions because they are all focused on you. You can escape these fearful emotions by focusing on your love instead.

You can choose to focus on your love for the people in your home, community and country. You can choose to love and support the leaders your community elected and pray for them. You can make the most of what you do have, and get out there and make a difference in the lives of those around you. Everywhere you go, you can validate and edify others and be a force for love in the world.

Or you can embrace fear, suspicion and resentment because “your guy” lost. You can fear the future and focus on protecting yourself from the bad guys around you. You can live with election depression or you can refuse to embrace it.

It’s up to you.

Abraham Lincoln served as president during another time when this nation was fiercely divided. He said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

It’s time to bind up the wounds this election caused and join together to create the change we all want.

It’s not easy to choose a positive mindset when you’re disappointed, but you have to do it anyway — because the only other alternative is fear, and fear won’t fix anything.

You can do this.

Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.