By the time you read this, the voting booths in the United States will have closed and election results tallied. The country seems equally divided along party lines for the presidential race, with many passionate and vocal supporters who are certain the world as we know it will end if their side doesn’t win.
In spite of my best efforts to avoid it, a democrat and republican friend who know each other (let’s call them Red and Blue) wanted to talk to me about politics this past week. They righteously defend their viewpoint and vehemently denounce the other’s, using essentially the same words. They ranted and raved about how the other party was the sole cause of all the problems in the country. They cursed the (liberal/conservative) media for attacking and victimizing their candidate and for refusing to air the dirty laundry of his opponent. Their myopic viewpoints were essentially the same; they were seeing the same scene, just in different colors.
There was no point trying to be the voice of reason and talk them down from their emotional high horses. I’ve tried that before and it never worked. I finally figured out why too—because they want to be angry. They don’t want to see things in any other way because they want to stay angry—it’s part of who they are.
So instead delving into any kind of discussion, I simply mentioned to Red how Blue had said the exact same thing, only opposite—ditto to Blue about Red. And then I changed the subject.
No, they weren’t happy that I didn’t hop on the negativity wagon and agree that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. But I won’t do that—it’s not my belief and I am not going to put my energy into that belief.
It’s easy to get caught up in a wave of emotion and not really understand why you’re doing what you’re doing—why you’re defending or attacking what you are. Is it really about choosing the best person or solution? Or is it about being self-righteously “right”? Is it really about the politics or does the issue trigger something for you at a deep personal level?
Yes, that would be my guess too—it’s really about you. So, if you find yourself ranting and raving about something, stop for a just a moment—a really long moment—and ask yourself why you’re so worked up. What are you really angry about? What are “they” doing that makes you mad? What are you afraid will happen if things don’t go your way? What will you gain if they do? What are you afraid you’ll lose if they win? What will you gain if your party wins?
They’re great questions and explaining why for each makes them even more powerful. So, take the time to figure out why you feel as you do and why you align with the people, platforms and positions you do. Don’t assume you know—you don’t, not everything, not at the deepest level. Once you do know, then you can make your choices consciously and on purpose rather than reacting to unconscious emotional triggers.
When you have personal peace and clarity, it’s much easier to stay above the fray and keep your attention, energy and emotion on creating good things. And since whatever you create for yourself automatically ripples outward to others, your new non-myopic view is contributing to the good of all.
You are more powerful than you know, so choose what you put your energy toward wisely.