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Post US Election Therapy

It’s been hard to escape the news, true or false, about the US Elections 2016 and I don’t want to dwell too long on this much discussed topic except to say:

  1. Donald Trump won the Electoral College and so is President Elect
  2. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote – just
  3. The pollsters and political pundits got it WRONG, WRONG, WRONG

Regardless of whether you like the man or his policies, baring him being convicted, Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America on January 20th, 2017 – so what should you do?

Well here’s what you shouldn’t do:

  1. Be afraid
  2. Hate
  3. Go back to normal

Fear is NOT useful

My first point is that fear is not useful. When we fear we don’t act rationally, we don’t assess all of our options and we operate from ‘fight or flight’. We don’t actually know what President Trump will do. Much of what he said he would do he has backpedaled on, and other things he just may not be able to do.

What this election has done is create a massive amount of uncertainty, and when we experience uncertainty, we experience stress. The antidote to stress is control. The more control you feel you have over yourself and your environment, the less stressed you will be.

Educate yourself. If proposed changes in US policy or procedures are likely to affect you, know exactly what your options are. Today I was in a conference listening to bankers and economists talk about how the Election would affect Asia (where I live). The consensus was that interest rates would rise, and that there would be a short-term boost for the US economy – all things that can be planned for.

Fear Leads to Hate

My second point is don’t hate. Fear leads to hate, and hate poisons the person who hates more than the hated. Human beings are tribal by nature, and it’s natural to fear those who are different from us, and it’s natural to rally against a common enemy. In the words of a Bedouin Proverb:

Me against my brother,

My brother and I against our cousin,

My brother, me and our cousin against the stranger.

With BREXIT and the US Elections we are seeing a lot of tribalism in the form of Nationalism. All this as a back lash against a perceived failure of Globalism. The immortal words of John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ have been lost in fear driven hate against our fellow humans. Jonathan Haidt, Social Psychologist, thinks that this is less about race and more about culture. We hate those whose culture is different from ours. Democrats are hating Republicans and vice-versa, but they would all unite as brothers and cousins for an external threat to the USA. Londoners experienced this phenomena during the World War II Blitz, when different social classes worked side-by-side to clear rubble.

Can you connect to your fellow humans, regardless of their race, creed or political leanings? Or do we have to have an alien invasion for us all to unite?

It’s NOT Normal

And my third and final point is, don’t go back to normal. This election has mobilized people to express their opinions, to vote against institutions that have not served them. The number one complaint is the disparity between the rich and the poor. But we have let these institutions take away our power. We have looked to authoritarian figures to take care of us and make things OK. We have abdicated our responsibility of ourselves and our communities.

Trump campaigned with the slogan, ‘Only I can fix it’. Well I don’t buy that and neither should you. He may make a great or a terrible President, I don’t know – but I do know that you shouldn’t look to just one man to fix your life.

Be a self-leader, choose what you believe in and speak up and take action to make your life better and positively impact those around you. Don’t blame others for your misfortunes, regardless of the ‘hand of cards’ life has dealt you.

Our lives matter, not by how high we reach but how far we have come.

So what should you do post-election? Vote for yourself, be a candidate of integrity with vision. Be a candidate your kids would be proud of.

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