(This post originally appeared on natashache.com)
We as a society go through collective rites of passage from time to time. These initiations are usually difficult. And one just happened in America last night.
I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning, partly in shock that the country I call home just elected a president who paved his way to power by touting bigotry, partly because as an empath I was accustomed to process the collective heavy energy around me. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are a sea of grief, with posts after posts mourning for the so-called “American tragedy”.
But just like the growth rituals we experience in our individual life, the societal rite of passage is meant to shake us out of our comfort zone, see the world with renewed insights, and ultimately transform us, as a society, from dreamy adolescents to grounded, strong, clear-eyed adults.
If you’re sad, angry, or worried because of the election results, I feel you. If you want to bang your head on the wall or eat 3 gallons of ice-cream right now, go ahead. But once you’re done with lashing out, there’re a few things I want you to remember:
1. You have nothing to fear.
As a long-term trend, the world you live in is becoming more tolerant, peaceful, and kind. Things we take for granted today—the absence of human slavery, women’s right to vote, and marriage equality— could not be claimed so once upon a time. At any given point, the progress of our collective awakening may seem slow. But the long-run trend on this planet towards more openness and light is undeniable and cannot be reverted by any single individual.
However, along this triumphant ride there are always temporary reversals. If you’ve spent any time reflecting on your own life, you’d realize that the individual setbacks in life almost always thrust you into your next stage of growth— a breakup awakened you to self-love and self-care, the loss of a loved one made you a more compassionate human, being fired from a job helped you to finally decide on pursuing a calling.
Our societal growth journey is not that different from our individual ones— any collective darkness only serves to awaken us to the need for more light and thus propels us forward. And any sadistic dark lords who temporarily rise to power would eventually, through their egregious deeds, make humanity embrace its light with even stronger conviction.
Any evolution/transformation on a larger scale is a dance of two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back. And the back steps have an almost equally important role to play in the human evolution as the forward steps.
2. It’s not us versus them.
Many of my Clinton-supporting friends, including the ones I know are incredibly tolerant and kind, vowed to unfriend every “deplorable” who voted for Trump. And of course my Trump-supporting friends all wanted nothing to do with the dimwits that bought into the “Clinton propaganda machine”.
It’s tempting to believe that those who didn’t share the same voting preference as you (i.e. half of the country) are all brain-injured or narcissistic bigots. But that’s simply not the truth. Most of us, regardless of gender, race, or economic standing, do not wish harm upon others but do want to be treated with dignity and respect. We all want a better tomorrow for ourselves and we all can be easily scared. In our basic human wiring, none of us are that different, despite our individual point of view and value system.
Life is a shit show already for most people and nobody has it easy no matter how it looks on the outside. So please don’t make the difference in political opinion another reason to cast judgment on other humans. It’s simply not worth it. When in doubt, evoke your wisest and most compassionate self. The President-Elect may want to build a wall around the country. But don’t end up building a wall around yourself just because you disagree with him.
3. If you wait for a Messiah to save humanity, you’d be waiting for a long time.
Throughout human history countless religious gurus and political figures have vowed to save mankind by various means in the names of different gods. Their campaign slogans may differ. But one thing they all tell you is that the promised land— whatever it involves… eternal joy, heaven, employment, health care, or free beer— is within reach if you just follow them. Yet there hasn’t been a single self-claimed savior who did not create an equal amount of disillusionment in the end as the hope they’d inspired at the beginning.
It is enticing to believe, especially when things are not going our way, that the world will be better once the political candidate we favor gets elected, or to the opposite, that if some savage demon becomes the head of state, your life will turn into a living hell.
But the truth is we all live in our own version of the world. And nobody has more influence on your world than your own actions. If you want your world to be loving, authentic, and just, try to be your most loving, authentic, and just self everyday. If you want equanimity, abundance, and empowerment for all, then try to embody those qualities with as much fervor as you had in denouncing a certain politician.
If you’re saddened by what happened yesterday, realize that maybe this is a wakeup call for you. Maybe life is telling you that it’s time to stop waiting for anybody else, no matter how powerful or perfect they seem, to create a better world for you. Maybe it’s time, finally, to be your own Messiah and be fully committed to your own power as a creator. Because whoever else you’ve been waiting for, they are not coming.
4. Everything is possible, really.
Only yesterday morning many of us didn’t believe where we are today was even a possible scenario. But now, the impossible not only has happened, but has been printed in countless newspaper headlines in black and white. What does it say about your own perception of reality? What does it say about your mental ability to predict the future? If you want living proof that the visions/beliefs we hold about ourselves and about the world are inevitably too limited and too inaccurate, today you have it.
We’re all enamored of our beliefs because they make us feel like we’re in control of life and living in a predictable environment. But today, one or more of our sacred beliefs got a brutal slap in the face.
seeing in action your own incapability to perceive reality, you have two choices. You can either lament and despair about your natural human limitation, which you can’t fix, BTW. Or you can choose to realize that the reality is always in flux. And since anything is possible, what you believe do not matter, including your beliefs about what’s possible for you and those around you.
You can choose to stop worshipping the little plans you have for yourself, and start experiencing every moment of your life with more humbleness and flexibility.
Depending on your reaction, you could either feel locked down and victimized by your own humanness, or empowered to live a bolder and freer life. The choice is yours.
We’re all complicated beings that have both light and darkness in us. But here’s a predictable truth in an unpredictable world— those qualities you choose to exercise more always get stronger. At the end of the day, your choices determine the kind of world you live in, no matter who is the president.
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Natasha Che is a personal growth teacher and writer living in Washington DC. She writes about relationship, career, spirituality and creative process onnatashache.com, where you can sign up to receive monthly inspirations. Natasha is working on a memoir titled Wizardry: One Woman’s Quest for Meaning, Mission, and Magic.