The Big Election Challenge: Is it Opening or Closing Your Mind?

The election is a great way to measure humans’ ability to be tolerant, open minded, calm and to “listen actively” to others. The issue of dealing with others’ opinions, especially those you care about and interact most with, has been a big one I’ve noticed with myself, my patients and supervisees and my friends/family during this intense election process.

So I pose these questions: I actually posed these on Facebook, as I’m curious to see what the answers are.

Has the Election enhanced your relationships with close people in your life or hurt it? Has it increased your anger management skills or worsened them? Has it enhanced your ability to be tolerant and open minded or made you more rigid? Post answers in the comments!

If you want to work on frustration tolerance, anger management skills, negative thinking, negative future prediction, overexposure to media, the best thing about this election in my view is that no matter what , it’s an opportunity for doing so.

Being friends with people who disagree with you on some things, important things, is a sign of the ability to tolerate others and be open minded, to be flexible and to be secure. The more secure you are with yourself, the less you mind what others’ think about anything. Other people’s opinions belong to them.

I would say that being a vegetarian, for example, has exercised this muscle for me for 20 years. I am a vegetarian based on treatment of animals. I eat with people who eat animals; the closest people in my life are often non-vegetarians.

When I became a vegetarian, I had a choice. Do I make big statements or small ones? DO I tolerate or do I have to be rigid for the purpose of my ultimate goal, less harm to other animals on the planet?

In a way, shopping and eating at places, public and private, where you see dead animals is an exercise in supreme tolerance and open mindedness. I care a great deal about animals and agree with Ghandi that:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Nobody says much about the food industry, especially with regard treatment of animals in this campaign. The one reference might be to the right to have rifles and firearms to kill animals that are not human.

So, when I’m around someone arguing about any of the Republican or Democratic candidates, I still get riled up, and I can look at election talk and feel anger coming, but then I remember, nobody effects big change by being a jerk about their opinions. Needing to be right is something that will not serve you in life. I spend a few minutes on the high horse and get into a passionate this vs. that thing, then I come down and realize: I’m just not the debating type. I’d rather shut up and ask questions. Since I am still super confused about most of what is going on, I seek information. I have a terrible memory for details, so I can’t pull good arguments and data out of myself in the midst of a political candidate preference discussion. Just this morning I spent two hours on the internet trying to gather facts to be able to “argue” better my judgments and feelings about the candidate, to no avail. I don’t remember much of what I read and got bogged down to the point where I’m back to being confused

I guess that is what we artist and healers tend to do, or some of us anyway. Get in it for a minute, and then when frustrated/confused/angry take it as a cue to pull to the side of the road and ask open-ended fact seeking questions, find out more about the person through asking about their views. Close observation of others, not just what they say, how they say it and how they dialogue with others. People distract me which is what makes it so hard to remember policies and issues and points of view; even reading an article, I wonder about the writer and the publication… I tend to notice a lot of “irrelevant” things about other people and environments; it can serve to get me more neutral and out of my angry convincing head and back to my curious head, where I operate best from anyway.

As to the animal rights issue: I go by the ‘set the example and just mind your own business method’, unless in the moment I can actively and non aggressively affect some kind of change, which may just be to make sure someone is feeding their animal enough.

How about you? How is this election affecting your relationships and your general well being?

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