SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares some ways to bring optimism back if the election didn't go your way.
I am not happy about the outcome of the election and find myself feeling depressed and even worried about the future. I am having a hard time feeling positive and it's really affecting me. Do you have any advice for after-election depression?
This election cycle has been more fear-inducing than any other I have experienced. Many supporters of both candidates have felt dread and fear about the other party; some have even felt threatened by or scared of "the other guy" and his ideas. Add to that the fear of the pandemic, climate change, protests and rioting, and instability in the economy, and there is good reason to feel worried about the future.
The problem is if we continue on this course, fearing each other and the future, we won't be able to come together and create the good changes we all desire. We have to stop functioning from and making decisions from fear, and start making decisions based on wisdom and love.
Here are some things you can do to feel safer about the future:
Seek out experience
Talk to an older person who has seen many elections and many presidents come and go. Ask them to share some of their experiences during the elections that scared them and how each one came and went. Most of the extreme ideas that candidates have never happen because of the checks and balances in the system.
Safety in the system
Understand the beautiful thing about our system of laws and our constitution is that they were specifically created to prevent any person or group with extreme views from taking over. Our government was designed to have checks and balances, which require compromise and mean that, most of the time, our solutions, programs and decisions will end up leaning toward the middle no matter who is in the White House. Congress usually always has a fairly even makeup, which prevents any one group from instituting an extreme agenda.
Comfort in numbers
Take comfort in the numbers. We learned this week that we are a deeply divided country, but almost exactly equally. The positive side of this is that you (no matter which side you are on) are not vastly outnumbered. That should feel good. There are as many people who agree with you as disagree with you.
Stop casting the "other side" as the bad people. For many of us, there is animosity and sometimes even hatred toward people who voted for the "other guy." That hatred is going to be a problem and prevent us from moving forward. 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 even if it's hard to do.
Heal the divide
Now the election is over, it's time to heal this divide. It's time to focus on what we have in common. 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 provide a more secure future for our children. We all want a government that's for the people and by the people. If we could set aside our differences and focus on what we have in common, we could unite as the United States of America instead of the divided.
Remember: We're all the same
Choose to see all human beings as having the same value. The people in the opposing party who support "the other guy" are good people; and even though they have different opinions, they have the same intrinsic value. No group of humans is worth more than any other group. When you choose to see them as the same as you, it takes some of the fear out of the situation.
Understand your discouragement
Your desire to feel safe is creating your discouragement. 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 real feeling of safety in the world 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 about life is what makes you feel safe. That is why courageous people can feel safe even in dangerous situations. Trust the drive, ingenuity and creativity of the American people. Trust that good people committed to the right principles can create good outcomes for our country. Trust that things will be OK if we keep working to turn them around.
Choose not to fear
Even when things go wrong, you can trust there's a good reason why things went the way they went, and you can choose to 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. No matter your spiritual beliefs or philosophies about life, you could choose to believe there is order in the universe and God has us because nothing exists He did not create.
Focus on other people
Discouragement, depression and fear are very selfish emotions because they are all focused on you. You can escape these fearful emotions by focusing on 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 in your community and even pray for them. You can 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. It's up to you.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that the future is unknown and uncertain. Things could get better or things could get worse, but standing at 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; it 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 create more problems.
I recommend choosing trust, hope and optimism even though things didn't turn out the way you hoped.
You can do this.
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