The Presidential election results of 2016 left millions of Americans reeling; spiraling uncontrollably in an emotional vortex. They caught us by surprise and left us stunned and dazed and confused. The results left us wondering. Wondering what will become of us financially, medically, and socially. Wondering if families and whole communities will be deported. Wondering if the spate of violence enacted against Black men, women, and children will increase exponentially. Wondering if the anti-Muslim sentiments, swastikas and defaming of our places of worship will intensify. Wondering if our good government jobs that our mamas told us to get and retire from will remain in place so that we can continue to work and retire. For we women, wondering if our bodies would become controlled by the proverbial body snatchers. And for most, wondering if there will be a world at the end of all of this.
What to do with all this uncertainty? What do you do when you see decisions being made that to even the most politically unsavvy of us makes utterly no sense? When billionaire cabinet picks are so far removed from the reality of the struggles of regular folk that they can’t possibly have the average American’s best interests at heart? When you believed, to borrow from the Material Girl’s very memorable Women’s March on Washington Speech, “that good would win over evil,” but evil seemed to triumph over good? When you hate the playa for so deftly playing the trump card and then winning the game? What do you do? My clinical thoughts to help you maintain peace and presence of mind, include taking a backward glance to fuel you forward. Here we go!
- Exhale: (also known as Woosah or simply…Breathe): I get it. It takes a minute to get your breath back when you get the wind knocked out of you. And that is exactly what happened on election night. But like a football player that is dazed from a hit, we’ve got to shake it off. We’ve got to get up, dust the dirt and soot of disappointment off of us, and we’ve got to breathe. Breathing steadies us. It grounds us. It calms us. And anxiety and calm cannot exist in the same body at the same time. Breathing allows oxygen and freshness of life and new energy to fill our bodies and invigorate our minds. And it prepares us to GO!
- Quit Belly-aching! I borrow this phrase from the late, great Elliott Cates; my granddaddy. There is a time and place for everything under the sun. But kvetching, complaining, and whining will not change the reality of the situation. Rather, it keeps the whiner in a perpetual state of negativity. It keeps one stagnant, and wastes energy that could be better used on problem solving and progress. To make it plain, with respect to the presidential situation; it is what it is. And when we know what things are, we can deal with them as they are.
- See the end from the beginning (Stephen Covey): What is the end game in all of this? How do we want things to look in 4 years? When we know these answers, we can plot out a course of action and work towards the end goal. Change is not only hard, but it is even harder when attempted alone. There is strength in numbers. And fortunately for us, we are a collective people who have big numbers. We must look at our strengths and capitalize upon them. We must take our collective anger and channel it into collective action. For example, the Black community has a buying power upwards of 1.2 trillion dollars per annum. How can we leverage this? Do we just spend as usual? Or do we prepare ourselves financially for an unknown situation. Do we prepare to fund a movement? Further to my point, we have a significant collective voting power — ask Former President Barack Obama. For too long we’ve felt that the Republicans just ignore our interests and discount our votes, and the Dems take our vote for granted. This means holding BOTH parties accountable for action.
- Take responsibility: I’m not into the blame game. It’s counterproductive. But I am into taking lessons learned from a thing. Simply, in order to ensure success moving forward, you’ve got to know where you went wrong. We’ve got to do a debrief of what the heck happened on November 8th so we can make sure history NEVER repeats itself in that manner again. We sat out. We thought that just one less vote wouldn’t matter. We thought for sure the best candidate would win. There are precious lessons here for all of us if we simply look. Here’s the deal: this happened on our watch. On the watch of all of us. So I ask…what could you have done differently? And better yet, what will you do differently next election?
- Educate Yo’self: The history of the Black vote must change. No longer must we be uninformed voters, and no longer must we leave the politics and governing — even at the community level — to others and then complain when decisions are made that don’t reflect our reality or wishes. Like Sheryl Sandberg advises in her book Lean In, we must have a seat at the table. When you have a seat at the table, you get to speak and be heard by the others seated at the table. At The table is where the power brokers are. That’s where the decisions are made. At the table. We must be more than marchers. We must be more than yellers and screamers and protesters only when some event occurs that leaves us feeling violated. We MUST understand the game. And we must know how to play it. And when we’ve got that down, then and only then must we engage.
As it says in the good book, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. While I agree that four years is quite some time, I also know that it is enough time. It is enough time to roll up our sleeves, get involved, and get a winning plan. And these next four years will pass as slowly or as quickly as we want. It’s all up to us.
The Good Dr. Nik
Dr. Nik is a Washington, DC-area based clinical psychologist, writer and prolific blogger, speaker, healer, and compassionate activist. Follow her blog by clicking the link above, and follow her @TheGoodDrNik on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Learn more at http://www.TheGoodDrNik.com