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Do you have postelection depression?

Posted November 11

 (Deseret Photo)

Question:

I feel absolutely defeated this morning and scared about the future of this country. I am also angry and feel hateful feelings toward all those who voted for Donald Trump. What am I supposed to do with these? Help?

Answer:

Many people this morning feel like the solid ground they were standing on has been pulled out from under them. To repair this and escape the depression you are feeling, you must find some new solid ground, escape fear and choose trust and love.

The negative campaign ads are to partly to blame for the fear you are experiencing. The campaigns purposely encouraged suspicion and distrust toward the other party. The people behind these ads wanted you to feel threatened and scared about “the other guy” and his ideas. They always make it sound much worse than it is, they have to because fear is such a great motivator.

The problem is, if we continue on this course of fear, fearing each other and fearing the future, we won’t be able to show up in the world the way we want to. Fear energy never creates anything good. It always creates more problems on top of the ones we already have.

We must come together as Americans if we want to create the brighter future we all desire. Healing this division in our country must start with each of us changing the way we think about the people on the other side. If we want Congress and the president to reach across the aisle and heal the nation, we must first reach across the street and heal the animosity we feel toward our neighbors, who had other candidates' signs in their yards. We must stop casting them as the bad guys and get back to trusting that God is still in charge in the universe and for some divine reason, this is our perfect journey.

We have to watch our subconscious thinking at this time because we, as human beings, have an innate negativity bias and a tendency to cast other people as the bad guys, so we can feel like the good guys. This tendency is responsible for most of the conflicts in the planet.

Whenever there is a group of people we don’t understand (be it for differences in race, religion, politics or ideology) we experience fear about them and we subconsciously cast them as bad or worse than us, and the campaign ads have used this tendency against us. They also played off our fear of loss and our fear of safety, which are the core fears that drive behavior.

Human beings are very fear driven, and we do a lot of what we do because we are afraid of losing what we have or being taken from or rejected. What we want, more than anything, is to feel safe. The campaigns understood this fear and wanted you to see “the other guy” as a threat to our safety. They have encouraged you to fear this person and everyone who supports him. They have encouraged you to see your fellow Americans as the enemy.

They aren’t the enemy. They are more like you than different from you. They are just scared — just like you.

Now, that this election is over, it’s time to heal this divide. It's time to focus on what we have in common. It is also time to understand where a feeling of safety really comes from and choose trust and love over fear.

Here are three ways you can change your mindset and feel better:

1. Choose to see other people as the same as you

There is no way “the other candidate” is as evil as the campaign has painted him or her. The people in the opposing party who support “the other guy” are still inherently good and loving people, too. They have different opinions because they’ve had different life experiences, but in many ways, they are the same as you.

They are scared, struggling, amazing, divine human beings doing the best they can with what they know at the time, and they desire safety and success as much as you do. Just because they don’t see the world the way you do — and maybe can’t see it the way you do — doesn’t make them bad people.

When you choose to see them as the same as you, it will take some of the fear out of this situation.

Let’s focus on the ways we are the same. We all want a prosperous nation and more good jobs. We all want a strong nation guided by hope, liberty and true principles. We all want to help the less fortunate and those in need. We all want to get out of debt and provide a more secure future for our children. We all want a government that’s for the people and by the people. We all value freedom and love our country.

If we could set aside the differences and focus on what we have in common, we could unite ourselves and once again be the United States of America instead of the divided.

2. Choose trust instead of fear

Remember, your desire to feel safe is behind your feelings of fear. You were hoping that by electing the candidate you trusted most, you would feel safe. When that didn’t happen, your fear got bigger.

The problem is, a feeling of safety doesn’t come from having a certain candidate in office. A feeling of safety comes from choosing to trust God and the universe that things will be OK.

Choosing trust, hope and optimism makes you feel safe. That is why courageous people can feel safe even in dangerous situations.

It doesn’t matter to which religion you belong, or even if you have one. Everyone can choose to trust that a higher power is in charge or you can trust the universe, life and the American spirit. You can trust the drive, ingenuity and creativity of the American people. You can choose to trust that good people, committed to true principles, can create good outcomes no matter the situation. You can choose to trust that things will be OK if we keep working to turn them around.

Even when things go wrong, you can trust there’s a reason things went the way they went and choose to trust and feel safe anyway. Trust is a choice you can make any time you want, and it's a good choice because the only other choice is fear — and fear does you no good.

This is the bottom line: The future is unknown. Things could get better or things could get worse, but standing in this moment you only have two choices: You can choose to trust things will be OK or you can choose to be afraid.

Your choice will not affect what happens in the future. It will be what it will be. But your choice will greatly affect the quality of your life today.

It will affect your relationships and the way you interact with other people. It will affect your ability to focus and work effectively. Fear, if you choose to embrace it, will skew the way you see your life and your negative energy may attract more problems.

I recommend choosing trust, hope and optimism, even though things didn't turn out the way you hoped.

3. Choose love instead of fear

Discouragement, depression and fear are very selfish emotions because they are all focused on you. You can escape these fearful emotions by focusing on your love instead.

You can choose to focus on your love for the people in your home, community and country. You can choose to love and support the leaders your community elected and pray for them. You can make the most of what you do have and get out there and make a difference in the lives of those around you. Everywhere you go, you can validate and edify others and be a force for love in the world.

Or you can embrace fear, suspicion and resentment because "your candidate" lost. You can fear the future and focus on protecting yourself from the bad guys around you. You can live with election depression or you can replace it.

It’s up to you.

Abraham Lincoln served as president during another time when this nation was fiercely divided. He said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

It’s time to bind up the wounds this election caused and join together to create the change we all want.

It’s not easy to choose a positive mindset when you’re disappointed, but you have to do it anyway because the only other alternative is fear, and fear won’t fix anything.

You can do this.

Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.

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