Emotions are likely to be high today. No matter which candidate you support, you may be anxious, optimistic, fearful, angry, and on edge, curious, or distracted plus many more emotions.
Today let your emotions inform your decisions and your actions. Channel your emotions into productive, not destructive, actions.
Because of course, so much is at stake in this election. When there is a lot on the line, people get very emotional and that’s exactly what we’ve seen this year on the campaign trail. When emotions are present, it does mean something matters and we are all deeply attached to the outcome of this election so no wonder emotions are present. They are healthy and are a way to communicate our beliefs.
Problems and conflict occur when emotions are uncontrolled and drive destructive, disrespectful and divisive words and actions. Emotions then drive people instead of people being able to control their behavior.
If you want to be part of getting people to work together again and be civil to each other, it’s your responsibility to vote and use your emotional intelligence as you interact with others.
There are six skills I believe will help you be more focused, present and effective today and in the days following the election.
- Optimism* – Our country has been through many dark times and although it’s been messy and in some cases devastating, we’ve always made it through. Tap into your sense of optimism by looking at the big picture that we will survive. Look at what is working in your life, your career, and your community. Yes there are a lot of things that need to be fixed. By looking at what is working, it will open us up to new solutions.
I’m not saying you should look at life with rosy-colored glasses and pretend problems aren’t there. Of course they are. Approaching today with optimism means that no matter who wins, we as a country have the ability to make it through, and you as a citizen have the power to take action that matches your beliefs and influence outcomes.
- Assertiveness – Do your part to make sure something good happens. When you are appropriately assertive, you communicate your feelings, beliefs and thoughts openly and defend your personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive and non-destructive manner. The offensive and destructive voices from these campaigns are overly aggressive which is causing a lot of chaos.
To use assertiveness, first vote, then do something to help other citizens like make calls, drive someone to vote, write a blog post, any kind of action that makes you feel like you can do something to make a difference.
This also boosts your self-regard and is a good use of your social responsibility, both which increase your emotional intelligence.
- Impulse Control – Take a breath before you argue or make sweeping generalizations. Impulse control is a mature way to address differences and conflict. Using impulse control, which is resisting or delaying the impulse to act, can help cooler heads prevail today and in the days following the election.
Using impulse control doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express your opinion, to recommend keeping quiet would violate your right to free speech. The difference is how you express your feelings, thoughts and beliefs in an appropriate way.
- Emotional Self-Awareness – This skill is so important I’ve included the whole definition from Multi-Health Systems – “Emotional self-awareness includes the ability to recognize and understand one’s emotions. Also includes the ability to differentiate between the subtleties in one’s own emotions while understanding the cause of these emotions and the impact they have on one’s own thoughts and actions and those of others.” Using this skill is the foundation for the core of your emotional intelligence.
When we are not present to our emotions and let them drive us, we lose our ability to be rational and take appropriate actions.
Take time today to reflect on your own emotions. Mine are a messy mix of hope and fear for the future, curiosity about what will change, anger about all the hatred that is being unleashed, and frustration. I’m also working to be more optimistic that we can make the country better, and tapping into my own use of assertiveness to reach out to potential voters through calls to encourage people to vote.
- Reality Testing – this can be tough if you experience a lot of difficulties in your life, especially on a day like today. Doing your best to be objective and see things for how they are can help you manage your emotions. Managing your emotions helps you stay productive and effective.
Fearing the worst keeps you from fully being present to your family, your job, co-workers, team members, and employees. Fearing the worst can paralyze your thoughts and actions and you can spiral into a downward spin into negativity and at its worst, depression.
Mentally or on paper, list the worst fears you’ve had and then notice which ones actually happened. Hopefully it’s none or less than the good things. This exercise helps you create a stronger sense of realistic thinking.
It is easy with all the media coming at us to mentally construct gloom and doom scenarios in our head. All the analysts, political commentators, talk show hosts and social media posts drive us to conclusions that may not be in our best interest.
We can use our minds just as easily to focus on good outcomes. Spend a few minutes today picturing good outcomes to our society, our economy and our country as a whole. It can get better.
- Interpersonal relationships – You won’t agree with some people, however, if they are significant people in your life and you want to stay in relationship with them, use impulse control – think carefully before you speak.
Speak your mind respectfully and after you have, respect their right as a citizen to vote as their conscience and heart speaks to them. This will go a long way to preserving your relationship.
While not measured as an emotional intelligence skill, courage will be important. There are so many forces out there that want us to stay in fear or incite fear and panic in us that we will lose our in us that we will lose our country. Some of the fear is real, and some of it is not. Use courage to discern for yourself what is real for you and then take action.
Thank you for reading this. I’m going to make some calls now to encourage people to get out and vote.
For your voting locations visit www.iwillvote.com.
* All definitions and emotional intelligence skills mentioned in this article are from Multi-Health Systems EQ-i 2.0 Emotional Intelligence Survey. Kathy Garland is a certified provider of EQ-i assessments. Click here for more information on emotional intelligence.