I first wrote this piece as a kind of letter to myself, trying to sort through the emotions I was feeling around this year’s unprecedented election and the reactions I was witnessing around me. Turning to my core principles always provides guidance and support when I need it most, and this is no exception. I have rewritten it as an article and share it here as it may help others with a new perspective of the chaos swirling throughout our beautiful nation at this time.
What you resist persists
As is true of all guiding principles, this one holds true every time, and yet most people just don’t get it. They think the only way to eliminate something which they don’t like or frightens them is to fight it, resist it, condemn it, or abolish it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The recent election is the perfect example. Each election year, we expect a certain amount of emotional commentary from both political parties, but this time around it seems that people are exceptionally distraught about the results of the election.
Many (around half to be more exact) of America’s voting citizens did not support our newly elected President-elect. And to voice their opposition and resistance to the outcome of the election, many have taken to social media to ardently display their dismay. Many times, the things they say they fear and loathe about the President-elect is what they are exemplifying and eliciting themselves, only they don’t realize it.
This isn’t by any means party specific. What is supposed to be a social forum to connect people is for some becoming divisive and disconnecting. People on both sides of the political aisle are unfriending, unfollowing, unlinking and are attacking and judging those who don’t agree with them, or who voted against them.
Ironically, by resisting their perceived characteristics of the President-elect and his supporters through putting out judgment and condemnation, people are in fact creating those very characteristics within their own personal environments. (The same is true for both sides of the political spectrum. The Principle is non-partisan!) They have lost friends, respect, and connection, albeit they will be the first to deny that, nor even realize it most times. But it is there, it is the same draining stress that keeps them up at night and steals away their creative and collaborative energy, which is the very thing needed to bring them true joy and fulfillment in their life.
Energy flows where attention goes
Another of my favorite principles always holds true as well: Energy Flows Where Attention Goes… so when your attention goes to condemnation and judgment, that is exactly where your energy flows, and your life soon follows. This will show up as fear and uncertainty.
Soon, you find yourself scanning the news and social feeds for stories and examples to PROVE your focus of attention. Then you tweet, share, and comment on them as proof that you were right all along! A hungry beast has now formed within, and it needs to be fed. This beast is familiar, we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. It uses fear and anger to take over and feels satisfied, although only briefly, whenever it finds perceived proof validating its existence. But it never gets full and soon craves more and more. It grows bigger with each feeding and soon takes over, and becomes a pattern, in most cases unconsciously followed.
In the meantime, what has happened to your sense of well-being? Your ability to be present and whole as you parent, relate, live, and love? We only have so much energy and time each day. Those people and causes which are so precious to you are going to have to learn to live with less of the energy of you because you are spending a good quota each day on feeding the beast. That is, until you decide you don’t want to live like that and are willing to make a shift.
Most will decide they have too much invested at this point and do choose to live like that. And so they will face the next four years (possibly more) with what they perceive as grim reality and exhaustive fighting. They’ll angrily toss this article the proverbial bird-flip, the beast will rub its belly and smile, and they will feel a brief vindication once again before moving on to find another fight. And that’s ok, that is one choice.
But for those who wish to get back to feeling whole and wish to have a deliberate and conscious choice in how to spend your precious time and energy rather than having an outside political party or candidate drain your resources, or fool you into thinking they hold the keys to your fulfillment —read on.
So what can you do?
Radically accept the above principles and make them work for you rather than against you. Stop resisting that which you abhor, dislike or wish to change. And instead, put your energy and power behind what you would like to see instead! This sounds impossible but it’s not. Rather, realize while it is human to judge, you don’t have to follow it up with words or actions. There is a message within the judgment itself.
Instead, get curious about what is really going on within the judgment you feel, and use it to guide your actions in a proactive manner instead. A manner which is connecting and brings in the collaborative and supportive energy you really want. Flip it from anger to motivation. Motivation to put your energy towards what you do want, rather than feeding that which you don’t.
Sure, you may not like how the election turned out, but resisting it will only give whatever you don’t like about the election results more strength and power. So, instead, put your attention (and energy) toward what you want instead! What really is at the core of your judgment? What is it you are fearing the loss of? Find that. If it is security, how can you make your world more secure and collaborate with others to make that happen? Is it feeling respected, valued, and seen? Then what value can you contribute to others that will make them feel valued and seen? How can you be seen in a way that represents those values you are wishing to feel?
Remember the second principle — Energy flows where attention goes. If you put your attention on contributing and focusing on what you want, the energy of what you want will also flow back to you and you will experience the same thing that you are putting out. It’s just how the principle works.
What are your values? What values would you like to see in our leadership? If you value respect and inclusion then what is the most respectful and inclusive thing you can do right now in this situation? Maybe you can not muster up a way to express those values toward the President-elect. You are not alone. But you have a choice. So, instead of resisting and fighting, try focusing your energy on showing respect and inclusion in your life throughout, which may even mean adapting grandma’s mantra when it comes to the election results… if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all… and instead, refocus that energy into promoting and supporting what you wish to see in the world instead!
Remember, it’s not personal, it’s principle! I’m not suggesting you ignore or try to pretend that the election isn’t extremely important or has little impact. But what I am suggesting is you do have a choice on how to respond.
When you give that which you truly want and love, you will get that in return. When you give that which you dislike, the principle will still hold true, and so you will get that in return.
What is it you really want? What are you going to focus on from this moment forward? The choice, of course, is yours.