At least half of the Baby Boomers in the United States find themselves dealing with defeat and deep disappointment after the recent presidential election. Some knew what was coming; most were taken by surprise.
This is for that half who expected a different turnout. However, if you face defeat and disappointment in other areas, you might find some help here as well.
Whatever you’re feeling - from rage to resignation to utter despair - is certainly legitimate. Honor that. Don’t try to deny your feelings. Don’t resist your feelings. Let them be what they are.
Acknowledge what you’re going through. Find a safe place to fully express yourself - preferably not in public like on Facebook, but with a close friend.
Share your thoughts and feelings with someone who won’t try to talk you out of how you’re feeling, won’t try to fix you, won’t judge you one way or the other. You want someone who will simply listen to you express yourself - empty out your innermost turmoil. You just need to be heard.
Dig deep. How are you impacted or think you will be? Don’t hold back. Say everything you have to say about it.
One of the most important ways of dealing with defeat or disappointment about anything, not just this election, is getting it all out on the table so that you can examine each piece.
Once it’s all out and been expressed, take a breath and relax.
Then take a look at your responsibility in the matter - authentically. Did you really do (or not do) anything to cause the outcome? Look hard at how you were being about the election or whatever has caused your disappointment.
Did you get out and ask for what you wanted? Did you put in the work to have it turn out how you wanted?
Most of us do not play fully. As far as the election, we may have registered a few voters or made a few phone calls or knocked on a few doors or put up a few signs.
We may have posted our positions on Facebook and Twitter and engaged with others. But did we really do everything we could have done to get our candidate elected?
In the midst of dealing with defeat is the opportune time to explore and examine our consciences. What is it we really want? What are we most afraid of in the immediate future - and are those fears based in reality?
Have we forgotten that a lot of what people say on the stump has nothing to do with what will really happen?
What are we committed to in life - now and in the future? What’s most important to us and what can we be doing to forward that?
It’s more useful to look at what we’re for rather than what we’re against.
Putting our energy and focus there would better serve us having that future we say we’re committed to having?
We also could locate the silver lining in the results - there’s always one or more. What lessons could we learn from this? What have we discovered?
Those who previously felt disenfranchised were finally heard - at least by someone. Maybe we could open ourselves up to the possibility that we’re not always right about everything.
Maybe another’s point of view is as valid as our own. Maybe it’s worth looking at why nearly half of the voting population felt so differently than we did.
What did we miss? And what can we acknowledge as a positive result from the outcome?
Put things in perspective. We’re still alive, the sun is still shining, beauty remains all around us. We are still the intelligent, good people with great hearts and intentions that we were before the election.
Do we really want to let the outcome turn us into embittered, enraged bad eggs who become exactly what we say we’re against? Do we really want to become the bigots and hateful mud-slingers we’re accusing others of being?
What would that accomplish?
If we're truly interested in healthy aging, holding onto anger and bitterness is the last thing we should be doing.
The best way for dealing with defeat and disappointment is to take a realistic look at what happened, our role in it, what we are committed to and where we can make the biggest difference for having that show up in the future.
If dealing with defeat means blaming others, whining and becoming defeated ourselves, we lose a lot more than we could possibly know.
What if we followed the lead of Antoine Leiris, whose wife was killed in Paris by terrorists on Nov, 13, 2015? In an open letter to the killers, he vowed he would not give them the satisfaction of fearing or hating them. And he would not do that to himself - he had to find the light within.
We haven’t been attacked by terrorists. We’re dealing with defeat of having lost an important election.
The good news is, we have the capacity, ability and tools to deal with our defeat without becoming all those bad things we fear.
A little cooperation, acceptance, tolerance and consistently holding our leaders accountable could go a long way to having the world we want.
That’s what will determine the quality of our lives henceforth.