I've been following this wild and woolly campaign season fairly closely. I find myself getting completely caught up in it: feeling at times concerned, anxious, shocked, disgusted, frustrated, or any combination of the aforementioned.
A few weeks ago I made some changes, realizing that this election isn't worth sacrificing my psycho-emotional well-being.
So with a little less than four weeks to go, here are my tips for surviving this election season:
- Turn it off. I find myself watching various news outlets whenever I'm near the tv. I enjoy hearing the different political spins on the same story. But sometimes it's too much, and it's time to turn it off. Just because there's a television in the room doesn't mean it has to be on.
- Put it down. My smart phone not only shows me political rants of Facebook friends, it also gives me headlines all throughout the day. I can get stuck in iPhone la-la land. When that happens, I put the phone down. I can always review my social media feeds at a later time.
- Watch what you post as well as who sees it. While I've been fairly vocal to friends and family in person, I've been purposely silent on social media because I didn't want to engage in the contentious fray. There's tremendous diversity among my social media friends, and I haven't felt like debating acquaintances or people I rarely see (or have never met) face-to-face. I finally posted something political this last week and found myself judged and admonished by both conservatives and liberals alike. (Ain't nobody got time for that, especially me.)
- Unfriend, unfollow. For me, I only receive rebukes from people who walk with me closely on my journey. These are the people who will call me out and then help me walk out positive change. If someone publicly and aggressively calls me out--and is not willing to follow up in private and in a non-snarky manner--I'm not interested in their feedback. I tell them as much and if they don't receive it, I put them on a limited viewing list--or better yet I unfollow. If they aren't open to collegial discussion, I unfriend. I don't need contentious people in my life from either side of the political aisle.
- Watch what you say. I assume that most people think just like me; after all I'm brilliant and always right (sarcasm intended!). But it's also probably a little arrogant to think that people see things from my perspective. So unless I'm really sure I know the people I'm socializing with, I'm very careful what I say, and how I say it. I've found it's just not worth it. The climate is too explosive right now. Pausing and taking the perspective of my listeners helps me cultivate empathy. And if there's anything I think we need right now in America, it's more empathy.
Now having said all of this, I love a good debate. I really enjoy political discourse. It's been hard for me at times because I want to go on rants and raves. But I've found other people's rants and raves are not really changing my mind (nor are they producing much good within me). While rants might help me blow off emotional steam, I don't think they are really going to help change anyone's mind either. In fact, my emotional steam may even turn people off who agree with me.
At the end of the day, most people's minds are already made up. As much as I'd like, I probably won't change them.
So I'm doing my best to follow the Golden Rule this election season:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
For me that includes how I share, the timing, the tone, the content, and my intentions behind it. I think if we all do that a little bit more, we might get a long just a little better.