While mindfulness, empathy, and self-care are all daily practices, sometimes we need extra support for extraordinary situations. Such is the case with the 2020 election, a charged moment in our country which will likely affect various aspects of our future. After a campaign season fraught with tension and struggle, coping with the election results will require personal agency and resources. Yet there has never been a better or more important time to practice kindness toward ourselves and our communities, particularly our young people.
Start by assuming good intent. Many people will feel distracted and edgy on November 3, including coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends. Government officials, along with researchers, have all but promised the results will take days if not weeks to determine. Children, in particular, absorb the effects of their caregivers’ anxiety, and likely don’t understand the circumstances or importance of the national election. Paradoxically, younger people typically aren’t as reliable as older populations when it comes to casting a ballot. This election is an opportunity to remind our youth that voting is not just a citizen’s civic duty, but also ensures representation in our democracy.
Consider how to respond to difficult questions, such as why one candidate is “good” and one candidate is “bad.” Consider, too, ways to respond to questions or comments that contain even more intense or violent language, from both children and adults alike. Our country is very divided right now, putting many people in a scarcity mindset that is “us versus them,” reflecting fear of uncertainty. Try to keep the perspective that most people want what is best for our communities, even if we have different ideas for achieving that goal. Try to set an example in the language you use, the comments you make, and the venting you post on social media. If being magnanimous feels disingenuous, aim for neutrality.
Speaking of social media: avoid the trap of endlessly scrolling for resources that either confirm personal bias or make doomsday predictions. While Twitter provides up-to-the-minute information, ask yourself if having information immediately is beneficial. Whether I was the first person or the 500th or the 500,000th to learn of Sean Connery’s passing doesn’t change my feelings, and doesn’t change the outcome. No matter the results of the election, we still have months before the current term ends and a new one begins. There is time to think and consider the implications of the election and to respond rather than react.
Finally, be intentionally kind to yourself. If you slip up while trying to keep a positive outlook in front of your family, apologize and try to do better next time. If someone catches you mumbling curse words under your breath, next time mumble them in your head. And remember that while this election is important, this country is made up of more than just the politicians. An election does not change our role as community members.