Dealing with Post-election Trauma

So far, this election is projected to have the most voters in an off-year. Emotions are running high and you or someone you know, is likely to be on the “losing side”. Here are some things for you to consider in the weeks and months to come.

Understand that the nature of an election means there will be people who are victorious and those who, at the very least, are disappointed. The emotions are complex and disappointment encompasses many other feelings: grief, hatred, anger, resentment, sadness, injustice, and loss of control.

The first step in dealing with these emotions is to allow time to grieve if your side lost. Grieving takes time and works through many different steps. It takes as long as it takes. However, there are some things you can do to mediate those steps. Remember, it’s all individual so your pace and others around you will most likely be at different rates and it is not a smooth journey. If your side won, leave your opponents alone to grieve.

Take time to stay away from the news or online sites that increase your distress. It won’t make things better if you engage in arguments with the other side. Be kind to yourself. Punch a pillow, take walks in nature, cry, take long baths, read non-political books. Do whatever it is that lets you really feel your emotions and your sense of loss. Spend time with friends where you might host or attend a gathering to grieve together. Hold each other. If your side won, never humiliate the opposition.

When you are ready, decide how you want to feel from this moment in your life. Do you want to be bitter and unhappy or do you want to bring meaning and joy to your life?

Losing an election may make you feel that you have no control over your life. Explore where you do have power in your life and a sense of control. Make a list of what has brought you happiness in the past or what you always wished you could have done. Work towards doing those things. Write down your goals. Set a date by which you will endeavor to begin the activity.

Become, or remain an active participant in movements and organizations that represent your political/social concerns you feel are at risk and support those causes. There will always be another election.

Finally, have no expectations about how the other side will respond. If you are on the winning side, be kind and thoughtful. If you are on the other side remember that gloating is not a pretty thing to behold.