E pluribus unum: Realigning ourselves after election results

By UB staff therapist Heloisa G. R. Roach, M.A., L.P.C., N.C.C.

Dr. Maya Angelou stated, “when people show you who they are, believe them”. This speaks to accepting others/things as they are, not as we want them to be. It is an important statement and resonates with this election’s results. These reflect where the United States stands at this time – how people are seeing themselves and each other; how they are responding to their fears; how and with what they are struggling; etc. It is a statement and people are making it heard through their votes. As I have asked to be heard, I have also been asking, “what do I need to hear?”

It is hard to listen when we are tired, feel fearful and have been breathing toxicity for a long time. We may experience headaches, feel disoriented or restless. In this case, we may be grieving and processing the election. As a result, we may find that we are no longer able to help ourselves. Those physical symptoms are similar to the ones experienced when an airplane cabin’s pressure drops. And as flight attendants wisely emphasize, “in the event of emergency, put your oxygen mask on first”.

So, first things first, oxygen mask goes on so that we can then help and/or listen to someone else. If we need a minute, let’s take a minute; if we need a day, let’s take a day; if we need a week, let’s take a week. Whether we are grieving or celebrating, oxygen levels need to be restored through what works best for us and promotes our wellbeing. Some examples that come to mind are exercising, spending time with loved ones, meditating, making art, praying, going for a walk, volunteering, spending time in nature, etc. And, as we prioritize our needs and begin to breathe again, we nourish our minds, bodies, spirits and faiths.

Then we can ask ourselves, “where do I/we go from here?” and decide how we want to show up to ask our voices to be heard and listen to others. Remembering what Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Also, honoring our place and worth as human beings with light and love. And if you feel or anyone tells you otherwise, listen up because I am here to tell you this, YOU MATTER. And love wins.

 

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