Are your emotions spent or are you still passionate about your dislike for the other candidate? Now that this most blistering of elections is over, Americans are faced with a task even more difficult than electing a President – bringing healing to a fractured country. This election, with its flawed candidates, unearthed major rifts in friendships and families as sides were drawn and opinions hardened. Now the country must come together and respect the democratic process that brought us our new leader. President-elect Donald Trump, Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have all spoken graciously about the need to unite as Americans and work together in service to our nation.
We have overcome past times of tragedy and hate that threatened to separate us into bitter enemies and we can recover our balance now as well. With some resilience, we can strengthen our nation as we reach out to family and friends who may have supported different candidates. It will take time and effort, but it is a challenge we can undertake, using these four methods:
Be proactive and take responsibility to begin the process of reconciliation. You might decide to express forgiveness for the actions of others or apologize for your own past behaviors. When you recognize that there is more than one perspective, you’ll find it easier to give up your knee-jerk reactions that can be counter-productive to maintaining your bonds.
Practice conflict resolution techniques
Use these valuable communication tools to reconcile with those who disagree with you. Listen actively and empathically. When you respond, avoid becoming angry or sarcastic as you send ‘I messages.’ Stay away from name-calling. Look for areas of agreement in your opinions and search for positions on which you can come to a compromise.
Avoid taking the bait
When someone pushes your button, take a deep breath and work to deflect your initial reaction. Instead of being drawn into another argument, defuse the tension and walk away from the confrontation. You may have triggers from the past that are still affecting you, but make an effort to resolve them so they don’t intrude on your personal connections today.
Express your gratitude
Let your loved ones know how much you value them, even though you may have not appreciated their support of a particular candidate. You can be grateful for their presence in your life, without always agreeing with their choices. Both your mood and those around you will be buoyed by the focus on your thankfulness. A hug and healing touch can bring a sense of camaraderie that has been lacking.
After over a year and a half of dysfunctional relationships, it’s not realistic to expect that the process of healing will be simple or easy. Be patient. You can’t control the behavior of those around you but you can decide to control your own reactions.
If we come together as a country, we can reduce our collective stress and achieve the kind of future for our children and grandchildren that we all desire. Let’s work as one to make that happen.