Last week, I wrote about living in a bubble after the election returns came in. Now that it’s been a week since America’s electoral college selected Trump, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the feelings of many of my clients, friends and myself in the wake of the election.
I clearly remember the 2000 election and the back and forth, crazy night watching the election returns with my college roommates. The drama and unease caused so many Americans to monitor President Bush nonstop for eight years. Then, in 2008, I remember feeling elated when President Obama won the election but don’t remember what the country felt like in the days and weeks to follow. But in the wake of this recent election, I definitely feel a new surge of energy.
So many people are suddenly following President-elect Trump’s decisions and proposed appointees to his cabinet. It’s miraculous to witness so many otherwise busy people suddenly take an interest in the goings on of our country. I’d say this is progress.
Despite so many Americans feeling let down about President-elect Trump’s victory, I’ve noticed a movement of empathy, compassion and action. Maybe conservatives felt similarly in 2008, when they were disappointed about Obama. Regardless, I think it’s incredible how so many people are now compelled to donate money or time to support the issues and causes that are important to them.
I’ve heard many people asking what they can do to impact change. Some people are wearing safety pins (which I don’t think is particularly active, but is a passive way of expressing support for being a listening ear or warm, inclusive human), an idea that was created in the UK after the Brexit referendum. Below, I listed some of my own ideas.
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As a Life Coach, it is my passion and my job to listen, to guide, and to help others enact change. So let’s start here.
- Stop making blanket and overgeneralized statements, even if they feel true to you. Let’s start by saying that “white people” and “Trump supporters” are a vast and varied group. Not all white men voted for Trump, just like not all women voted for Hillary Clinton. However, many Americans feel compelled to commiserate, protest or express concern for Trump’s presidency, his transition team, as well as his selections for his Cabinet. They have a right to exercise their voices of worry. There are also lots of people asking POCs (people of color) how to help, but it’s not their job to do all of the education. Rather, people need to take responsibility in personal ways and learn how to navigate this unique time.
- LISTEN. Listen. Listen. I think it’s crucial to listen. Be open. Allow people who feel disenfranchised to speak, and please don’t pounce if their opinions–or experiences– are different from yours. Everybody has a personal set of morals, history and values that inform their decisions.
- Remember the choices and decisions you can make (rather than concentrating on what you can’t). Do your research. You can certainly vote with your wallet and time. If you don’t want to support certain big picture proposals, research the alternatives. I believe in action and in doing things that are empathic and engaging band now vote with their wallets. You want to keep marriage equality intact? Don’t eat at establishments that do not support marriage equality and LGBTQ rights. You have many more accessible ways to protest and support than you think, you simply need to do your homework.
- Become as aware of yourself, your feelings, your processes as humanly possible. Instead of immediately blaming someone else, look inward. Notice if something you hear sits uncomfortably with you, and if so, how? Maybe you are creating a certain story in your mind, when that thing hasn’t actually been said. Or, maybe that thing is being said and you need to act. Find the fire in your belly and embrace it. Let it motivate you for change, as I wrote about before when I was angry.
- Remember, this is part of the long game. We need to view the Executive Branch (the office of the President) as a crucial part of American life — and history. Policies and procedures that are important to you to protect need to be respected. Make sure you’re involved in local or state government if something is not getting done on the Federal level.
- Lastly, have empathy for your neighbors, friends, coworkers and parents, even if they voted differently. No need to argue with them on something that’s already done. Instead, take action with what you can do now. Breathe.
I’m taking my own advice. I’d love to hear what else you’re doing be empathic and also to take action.
Until next time.
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