As we approach election day, plenty of us are caught in a whirlwind of emotions. While every election holds importance, this one feels paramount for many people. I’m not going to dive into the various reasons why, because this would turn into a very long and emotional post. And I’m just not equipped to go into that tonight.
A little over a month ago, I had a brief encounter with some friends. Heartbreakingly enough, during those couple of hours together, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death was announced. We sat there, speechless for several minutes. Eventually, when we were able to pull ourselves together, the conversation inevitably turned political. A couple of my friends mentioned they were planning on taking November 4th off of work because it would either be the day after another night marking four more years of defeat or it would be a day worth celebrating. I didn’t disagree with their rationale, as I remember the day after the election four years ago and how eerie work seemed when I walked in through the doors.
That election night four years ago… it felt like a nightmare and a practical joke. It was also the subject of the last big fight my ex and I had because he essentially threw his vote away. Alas, the past is just that. Let’s hope he exercises his right more responsibly this time.
The point I’m running toward here is being prepared to accept the outcome, no matter what it may be. It’s an important election, absolutely, but we determine how we respond to the news. Honestly, I feel there are reasons to be nervous for both outcomes. That being said, I’m absolutely leaning heavily a certain way. While I was inclined to use one of my remaining personal days as a “recoup from election night” day-off, I realized that neither candidate deserves me using my limited time to mourn or celebrate their success.
As I’ve struggled and seen friends struggle with a sense of defeat and hopelessness, whether it be from the election, receiving less than promising test results, relationship trials, or not receiving the promotion at work, I’ve realized that the common denominator that holds us in perpetual pain is a lack of acceptance.
See, when we don’t agree with a circumstance or outcome, we resist it, fight it, and deny it…Sometimes to the severe detriment of our health. The situation itself is a huge blow, and the notion of accepting it seems like the ultimate admitting of defeat. We simply won’t allow it. We bottle up (or lash out) rage, with the idea that if we just don’t let go, things will eventually change.
If we let go, who will fight the good fight? How will the others realize how wrong they are?
What we don’t realize though, is that this refusal to accept is actually a roadblock in helping us overcome, move forward, or find inner peace.
Many of us are stuck in the ideology that acceptance is synonymous with agreement or support. When actually, these can be mutually exclusive. We can accept something without agreeing with it. Just because we accept doesn’t mean we give-up, give-in, or give consent. Acceptance simply means that we acknowledge the situation as it currently is. And in doing this, we free ourselves. We release the energy otherwise spent on fighting, so we may instead use it for moving forward with newfound clarity.
In this life, we can only control our own actions. In this life, we can only make our own choices. While the actions of people in Washington, our workplace, our families, and our communities absolutely influence our lives, it is up to each of us to create our own fate.
Now I know what you might be thinking — I’m not at all recommending apathy with injustice or “taking this lying down” (I really hate that phrase). Instead, I’m warning against common tendency to get so impassioned and enraged against a situation that it clouds our judgment and blinds us from finding and taking effective action.
But let’s shift back out of politics because I think we’ve all had enough of that for a while. During the assorted struggles encountered during the Covid-19 era, I’ve found that the primary element impeding my ability to cope, heal, and rebuild was my inability to simply accept the situation. I was so resistant, so hurt, so distraught by the new circumstances that were beyond my control, that I perpetuated this inner torment for weeks. The denial became nearly debilitating, but I eventually reached a point where I realized that I was sacrificing my health and happiness for the sake of clinging to something that no longer was. Life, and all of the beings in it, are in constant flux. Honoring that truth for others and within ourselves is a stepping stone to acceptance.
None of this is to say I’m an expert in acceptance. Far from it. Just when I think I’ve mastered it, something will turn my world upside-down. And you better believe that my first impulse is to fight it, usually until I reach a state of mental, emotional, or physical depletion that forces me to seek an alternate route. There’s a reason that acceptance is a touchstone of recovery from grief and other ailments; for, if we can’t see reality for what it is, how can we ever heal and harmonize with it?
So, rather than aiming to meet each situation with immediate acceptance, let’s remember that acceptance is a practice we cultivate toward achieving peace and actualizing our power.
With that, friend, I hope you find peace within yourself and we begin to see more of it in the world in the coming days. Each and every one of us walk different paths for different reasons. These unique paths are imperative to our learning and growth. Rather than demanding others to ditch their paths and take ours, we can respect that each of our paths are forged through different climates and stories. And from a state of acceptance, perhaps we can find a solution that guides all of our paths toward the collective, compassionate good.