Many of us here in the U.S. are struggling to cope with our feelings about the results of our election this week.
One of the themes I’ve noticed over the past several days, for myself as well as clients, colleagues, and community I’ve connected with is something like this: I’m not sure how, or when, or where, to express what I’m feeling.
I’ve heard several people say — as soon as a few hours after the election results came in — “It’s time to move on and stop talking about it.”
Whoa! This is big, for all of us (including those who are happy with the results of the election). How about allowing ourselves a little time to process this change, if that’s what we need?
I’ve also noticed myself feeling compelled to respond to others’ pain when I had nothing left in me to give. I’ve felt both comforted and exhausted by social media posts. I’ve wanted to grieve and process alone, and then very quickly wanted to grieve and process with others.
I’ve noticed that there’s a difference in feel between those who seem to want to hurry on to avoid what they’re feeling, and those who want to move on to create positive change without dwelling on what’s done. And probably many of us are experiencing all of the above.
I have so much compassion for all of this. When we’re hit with big change, each of us will respond based on our past experiences, who we are today, our unique temperaments, and the way we’re wired.
The bottom line for me: I want to feel safe, and I want others to feel safe. I want to be kind, and I want to honestly express what I’m experiencing when and where that feels safe and necessary to me. I don’t want to trample on anyone’s beliefs, and I need to honor my own.
I can care about you and disagree with you. I can love you, and need to process what I’m feeling in a way that is quite different from your way.
What if, as long as we are not intentionally hurting anyone else, it’s okay to process big change in whatever way we need to process it? As quickly or as slowly, as outwardly or inwardly, publicly or privately? With lots of talking it out, lots of contemplation, or a combination of both?
What if whatever we need is just okay? And what if, by open-handedly giving ourselves what we need, it helps us feel okay with others taking care of themselves in whatever way they need to as well?
I write a lot about self-care here, and how we really can’t totally separate self-care from other-care. What if the ultimate act of self-care is gentleness toward ourselves when we’re just not quite sure what we need? And that, in cultivating this gentleness toward ourselves, we’ll be better able to extend it to others as well?
How do you know how to best take care of yourself — and respond to the needs of others — during challenging times? Do you tend to move through big changes quickly, or do you need to process more slowly? I’d love to hear from you.