Watching President Trump give the State of the Union address and Congresswoman Pelosi’s reactions, I couldn’t help but draw the analogy of a dysfunctional family, both of them trading unprofessional behaviors. They reminded me of an angry husband and wife or ex-husband and ex-wife acting badly.
Afterward, the news media fed the negative emotions to the viewers or readers by re-showing the insults. After all, it’s about getting an emotional reaction from viewers, isn’t it?
Then citizens carried the negativity on to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and other social media, with their own pathos posts, meant to stir up more anger and strife. If I remember my psychology, anger turns to depression and becomes a vicious cycle.
Does our leaders behavior increase the depression in our society? How does this help a nation already struggling to feel good about life? How can people learn to deal with this bombardment of negative emotion? How does one find joy in the election process when what we see is poor behavior from our country’s leaders?
I know, I’ve been there. I’ve been so hurt, so upset, and finally so angry by our leaders that I fed into the same negative talk. After all, I wanted to get my jabs in at the other side, as well, but I have learned no one wins in these negative battles and it certainly doesn’t make me feel better.
I for one have found three actions I can take that keeps sadness at bay and brings me back to more joy in my life during the election process.
1) I accept responsibility for my emotions.
No one can make me feel bad or negative. I have to allow that person’s negativity into my boundaries, my psyche. I chose the feeling. I alone chose the attitude for the action. I alone choose to read or watch something that feeds my negative spirit.
I alone allow someone’s actions or words to affect my mood. A favorite book that helped me understand this was Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow, by Karen Casey. Just reading this book when I get so upset by another’s words or actions calms me down.
The anger that festers inside me does not hurt anyone but me. That anger, annoyance or irritation I harbor from someone effects my health. It affects my relationships around me. I might think angry thoughts that turn into a snarky comment to some poor child or friend that happens to be in conversation with me. That may cause the other person to be infected by the negative energy and go on the defensive or worse say something negative to someone else because of my behavior.
I’m hurt! doesn’t that mean I can hurt them back? Yes, that’s one choice, but I don’t feel better and most times I feel worse.
Changing my attitude about the offense makes a difference. I try and look at it another way. If a two-year-old said the same thing to me, I might smile, laugh, at the very least I will not give that two-year-old power over me by reacting. I don’t change my attitude or feelings because of a baby. So, I will think of the offending person as a two-year-old child. Suddenly, my attitude has changed.
2) I Forgive
“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance . . .”Ben Franklin
It helps when I forgive them. I don’t know the experiences that caused them to feel a certain way. I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes.
I don’t know if it’s an age issue. Studies show the coginitive fuctions in humans do not fully develop until later in life and could explain the immature behavior.
I don’t know who or what pushed his or her button, caused the hurt to make them act that way, and if that’s the case, I wish them more peace in their life.
I don’t know what fears drive the negative emotions. I wish them to feel calm and clarity.
3) I am Proactive
“Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself . . .”Ben Franklin
For the longest time, I read Facebook messages that I saw were meant to make readers feel angry or fearful. I did not feed into the shark frenzy, but I didn’t do anything either.
I asked myself, “Am I part of the problem or part of the solution?”
Am I part of the problem feeding angry words to a divided society or am I part of the solution choosing my mindset to overcome the emotionally charged negative emotions and write constructive comments to mitigate the tension?
This is hard. I’m the type that avoids conflict, but I’m finding the courage to say something at the risk of becoming the target of negative energy.
I can do one of five things.
One, I post statistics or studies that prove a point when opinions run wild. My feeling is data talks a verbiage walks.
Two, in a neutral way I call out the person feeding negative emotions
I call the writing or depiction what it is: a post meant to rile people and feed their negative emotions. This has caused me to become the target of those individuals trying to stir up emotions, but I calmly restate my opinion and point out the emotionally charged language. Sometimes I call it “Word Vomit.” Hey, I’m not perfect.
Three, I thank people for posting information that helps me with informed choices.
Can I be proactive in this election year and stand up for decency in a dialog? Can I say or write something that will bring more positive emotions to the world? Can I model how to handle the insults, the words or actions meant to cause me to feel anger?
Four, I write a letter or email to a congressional leader.
Write the media and express concern about their choices of wording or articles. Use your dollars to avoid such media. Write to congressional leaders expressing your gratitude for the professional manner or your concern about their non-professional manner or encouraging them to bring civility back to civic duty.
Five, I get involved
I can get involved either with my money or my time to bring civility back to the world.
The Joy of choosing my response.
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man [or woman].”Ben Franklin
There is a period of time between the stimulus and my response, where I decide how to respond. according to Steven Covey, an American author, speaker, and businessman who wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Will I choose a negative response or a productive response? Bringing peace to the election process begins with me.
It’s not easy, but I am determined to speak out in my small way to quell the fire of anger and fear that depresses our nation.
I know these actions will help me feel more joy when I choose the right response.
Peace, Joy, Love,