Election Day Shadows: How to Find Peace in the Midst of Division

November 6, 2012 | By | 1 Comment

Who are you voting for? Has your choice changed in the past few days, after watching the debates or a few advertisements? I’m thinking no. You probably made up your mind at the end of the Republican primaries, after which your choice became clearer.

Who do you think will win? Who knows, right? It’s going to be close. The lack of a clear front-runner is reflective of our time. We are a split culture. Split internally and split socially.

Letting Go of the Past

Even with the level of conviction that many have, who really knows the best way to address what are complex and often overwhelming issues. There is no fixing the complex war with terrorists, a powerful China, or the hangover from a twenty-year growth party that ended with a bang.

Then there are the numerous looming tipping points such as climate change, the cost and availability of healthcare, and broken retirement systems. These are no longer theoretical issues. They are personally vulnerable matters. It’s no wonder we’re split, we’re scared. We’re hurt and sad too. Things are not going back to the good old days of abundant resources, a favorable population age mix, Mayberry towns, Leave It to Beaver family units, and a small proportion of people with real needs. Those times are gone.

Election Day Rage

The outcome of the election is interesting and somewhat important but, let’s be real, our issues extend well beyond the influence of the leader of the US or politicians in general. It’s a sucker’s bet to expect an elected official to inspire us to make the personal sacrifices necessary to create sustainable change. Politicians have too many conflicts of interest due to who finances them, and their quest for job security keeps them from telling the truth.  Why expect more from them?

These are vulnerable times and it’s easy to allow fear, hurt and sadness to turn to anger. What is interesting is the zeal and conviction many people have about who should (or shouldn’t!) be our next President. I know better than to bring up politics with certain folks, some that are close to me. It won’t end well. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of some reports of Election Day Rage, sort of like attending a kid’s soccer game and watching parents duke it out after an official makes a “bad” call. I wish we could talk about the fear and hurt instead of the anger.

Embracing the Enemy Within

When we can stay connected to the full range of emotions we are experiencing, we engage with others more compassionately. This honesty with our emotions helps us do the hard work of seeing another person, not an enemy or some dark force out to get us.

There is a great gift in learning about one’s self that comes from understanding the views of another, especially when they are the opposite of our own.

It’s easier to judge and be even more convinced we are right and the other is wrong. It’s easier to build a strong case for why the other side is crazy than to see our own blind spot or shadow, something about our self that we don’t see or don’t want to look at. Ignorance is the cause of painful and useless arguments.

If you want to connect with someone who pushes your buttons all you have to do is consider that whatever you are adamant about is probably not true. This is the way to burst the bubble you live in. A bubble that distorts everything you see and is the source of all of your suffering.

How to Process the Election Outcome

Because the election is too close to call (and could even result in a tie or be contested for a few days or weeks) I have a suggestion that will help you reduce your angst about its outcome. Assume your guy will lose. Really feel the discomfort. Play out your great fear. Feel the emotions and vulnerability that are underneath your anger and judgment. Which belief are you unwilling to question? What do you really, personally not want to change about your life, yourself, your way of viewing the world? These attachments are the source of your angst. When you get honest about your fear and your desire for something to be a certain way, your resistance to what is will soften. It makes little sense to resist reality. Be present to what is happening right now with as little judgment and opinion as possible and see what happens to your fear.

I am not minimizing the impact and importance of government policy. I am suggesting that your attachment to your opinion and to your personal security creates blind spots that make it hard to see the big picture, feel fulfilled, and communicate with compassion so that you feel heard by others.

As Zen Roshi Junpo Denis Kelly says, “Your angst is your liberation.” Get honest with yourself, acknowledge your emotions and look slow down enough to examine your opinions. The election results, and maybe the rest of your life, will be a lot easier to process.

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Executive coach, top team facilitator, author and speaker. I work with individual leaders and their teams to help navigate personal and professional transitions and to increase leadership capacity and improve communication and relationship skills. I founded my coaching firm in 2001 following 12 years asa CEO. Check out more on me and my coaching process in my book "The Business of Wanting More: Why Some Executives Move from Success to Fulfillment and Others Don't"

Comments (1)

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