Regardless of who you’re voting for, we can agree there’s more than enough being said on this topic.
I was determined to NOT write a blog post or do a podcast about this US presidential election.
However, I’ve been asked by many of my readers and clients, “How are you handling this political season?”
So, let me say a few words before we dive in:
This is not a post about my personal political views. So if you’re reading just to figure that out, I think that you might be disappointed. However, I do encourage you to keep reading.
I am not a professional political commentator. (shocker, I know) Although I think I could be more fair than what we currently have out there – and just putting it out there…I’d love to have a TV show.
I am not a political activist. I’ve never claimed to be one. This is not my purpose in this lifetime. But I am an activist of sorts: My activism is completely focused on inspiring women from around the world to French Kiss Life — to stop placing their worth on pushing harder and jamming more into their lives and, instead, to embrace a life of elegance, style, and joie de vivre.
So here goes…
Something has gone very, very wrong during this political season.
Initially, I wanted to title this post, “Everybody calm the hell down,”
……but I realized that’s not the real issue this political season.
It’s much, much deeper.
I’ve seen 20 year old friendships end.
I’ve witnessed ugly personal attacks play out on social media.
I’ve watched violence unfold on our streets.
I’ve seen adults act like little toddlers having temper tantrums.
It feels like I’m watching House of Cards play out in real time.
I can feel the fear, hate, resentment, and irritability. It’s palpable. And, if you’re sensitive to other people’s energy, like me, you’ll find it everywhere.
However, I know that I don’t have to live in that space IF I choose not to (thank GOD, right?).
If you desire to step out of that space as well, you’re in the right place m’friend. The French Kiss Life community is full of life-loving, supportive women committed to creating their lives versus reacting to everyone and everything around them.
I’ve created a simple solution to change your mindset.
As for my approach this political season, it's quite simple:
I'm fascinated with it all.
When I say "fascinated", I don't mean this facetiously.
To be fascinated means to approach life with a "sense of curiosity and transfix or deprive the power of resistance." It's the term I teach my students when they are watching their own behavior.
So, during this political season, here's what fascinates me.
I'm absolutely fascinated when:
I see a leader/coach/mentor teach others to stand up and have an opinion..... and then turn around and publically shames anyone who doesn't share her own.
A spiritual guru with thousands of followers who teaches that love is what needs to be offered to any fear based situation .....and then turns their entire social media platform into promoting fear around this political season.
People call political candidates "liars"...not recognizing all the times they've lied in their own lives. (by omission, exaggerating the truth, justifying their behavior...and we've all done it!)
Women who are advocates for women's rights and freedom of expression...and then tear down Melania Trump for posing in Playboy.
Someone speaks about how a woman's appearance doesn't matter .......and then slams Hillary Clinton's wardrobe choices and weight.
I witness individuals issue a blanket statement that "All Trump supporters are Bigots"...all the while they are embodying bigotry simply by making this statement.
A Christian says, "I hate Hillary Clinton"...when one of the main doctrines of the Christian religion is to love others.
And, here's what I am finding MOST fascinating:
MY own thoughts/judgements/feelings around it all.
Oh yes, I'm watching my own thoughts and feelings like a hawk this political season.
What I've come to learn is this:
The more I stay in my own business, the happier I am.
This is the only thing I have control over.
I'm not as interested in people calming down as I am interested in all of us acting more like emotional mature adults who can express our opinions with respect.
However, I can't control other people's actions, but I do have control of my own and whom/ when/ where/how I choose to engage with.
So, here's is how I am French Kissing this Political season.
Perhaps one of my eight actions listed below might support you.
#1 - I'm hiding Facebook posts like a madwoman
Each morning, I wake up and ask myself, "How can I make my life more beautiful today?"
I edit my life of whatever doesn't align with that question.
If there's someone on either side of the aisle who is constantly spewing fear onto my social media wall, it is my right and choice to "hide." I'm not defriending nor engaging.
I don't call it avoiding or being ignorant. I am just exercising my right to choose what thoughts go into my head. These are people I love who I know are just extremely fearful right now, and fear comes out in ugly ways.
#2 - I love a great debate, however I only engage in political discussions with those who debate like the French
I am passionate about passion.
I adore emotional debates and lively conversations. I am magnetized to a women who strongly expresses her viewpoint. Anything less, would be vanilla. A woman would not be memorable and definitely not iconic if she didn't express herself.
However, a great debate consists of a statement of opinion, followed by the person's reason followed by an illustration to back up her point.
This is how I've seen the French debate over dinners where wine flowed and lively conversation danced around the table. People don't personally attack you for what you're passionate about, and they don't back down from their opinions either.
At the end of the evening, they give the good ole' double bisou and remain friends. There's respect. There's love. And, they agree to disagree.
#3 -- I refuse to debate politics via social media
My social media platform is like my living room.
The difference, however, is that anyone can stumble in without invitation and start spewing their attacks while hiding behind their computers. I would never allow this in my living room.
Furthermore, the people I'd invite into my home would never behave like out of control toddlers. I tend to hang out with highly intelligent and passionate people who can express themselves without attacking another human being. So, I'm certainly not going to debate politics with people I don't know through the interwebs.
#4 -- I avoid mainstream media outlets.
Without calling names (but y'all are smart cookies, so you know which ones I speak of), I limit my mind with their viewpoints. They take one story and each give a completely different perspective.
It's like the classic 1950s Japanese film, Rashomon, where the various characters provided self-serving, contradictory and alternative versions of the same incident. Who was telling the truth? What is truth? (That's a completely different topic, so I digress...). Personally, I enjoy listening to BBC, NPR and reading Vogue.
People can say I'm burying my head in the sand. And, you know what? I honestly don't care.
As Tony Robbins often says, "Would you rather be right or happy?" I choose happiness.
#5 -- I accept that I can't change another person's mind; and I love them anyway.
I spent a decade of my life trying to change my mother's mind to understand my point of view.
(I'd highly recommend against attempting this if you've been considering it).
My mother has just as much right to her opinion as I do my own. I choose to love my mother, regardless of her opinion or who she's voting for. I believe in a human's right to express her opinion (regardless of whether I agree). Just because I don't agree doesn't mean she's wrong either.
I love what Ellen Degeneres recently said on her show, "Who you vote for does not define who you are as a person." She went on to acknowledge that she has Republicans, Democrats and Independents in her audience, and that she appreciated and loved each of them.
Now, I don't know who Ellen is voting for (I mean, I have my assumption), but what I deeply appreciate about her political approach is that there's acceptance of other's, despite their political views.
What I've discovered is that when you fully accept your own mind, you don't need to control others.
#6 -- I don't tolerate personal attacks; and I refuse to give them (no matter how "justified" I feel.)
Freedom of speech.
What a double edged sword. It is an incredible freedom, and I am so grateful for it. But I have seen it become highly abused this political season.
It has been used for personal attacks, which I believe to be the root of so much unnecessary disharmony.
In case you don't know what a personal attack is, let me give you an example:
You're an idiot if you vote for <insert candidate's name>.
The moment you speak to me in a way that's demeaning, threatening or has crossed my own set emotional boundary, I will either ask you to stop or I will walk away.
Life is too short to put up with people who feel they can belittle you for any reason, especially for your beliefs.
So, It's easy to point the finger at those who make personal attacks.
Now, let's flip the coin on myself.
If I feel like I need to express my opinion in a respectful manner, I've found these phrases very helpful in avoiding personally attacking someone (even when my heart is racing out of rage or feelings of "what the heck is wrong with you that you don't get it"-ness)
"You know, ________ really concerns me. It seems to me that _______ stands for ________. What are your thoughts about this? Help me understand your point of view."
"Whenever I hear ___________ speak, I feel like he/she is promoting ________. I'm curious what you like about him/her."
Give it a try!
#7 -- I will take my opinion to the voting booth
That's where I get to express my opinion the most strongly.
Now, I know that some of you may think I'm taking the easy way out of this convo, because you still don't know who I'm voting for and you most likely will never.
Some things stay tucked away in my secret garden, and this happens to be one of them.
#8 -- I deeply know that "This too shall pass."
My grandmother used to tell me this during times of hardship, and there has been major issues in our world since the beginning of time.
Next year (and hopefully, before then), our Facebook feeds, conversations and other issues will be different. This political season will pass like it always does.
However, between now and then, all I know is that I am accountable to my own thoughts and actions around it all.
The importance of staying open.
Now, I want to clarify, that the us of these tools are not meant to shut people out and they certainly aren't meant to shut down your emotions.
It's absolutely okay and normal to feel anger, sadness, frustration, or any emotion. However, it doesn't benefit you (or anyone) to get on that emotional train and allow it to drive your actions. This is how the screaming, personal attacks and physical altercations start...from people who don't have enough self-discipline to check themselves before they wreck themselves.
I only take the measures above in order to ensure that I am behaving like an adult who can express my opinion with respect and emotional maturity while protecting my own emotional space (there is no formula to doing this).
However, before I close, I did want to share how important it is for me to stay open to viewpoints that differ from my own. When I've shut off other people's opinions, it's usually been because of the discomfort with my own. When I shut people out, I am only adding more fear, hate and anger into the mix.
I have friends who want a wall, and those who want to tear them down. They all teach me something. Sometimes it's a new way of looking at things. Sometimes it's a strengthening of what I deeply believe.
I have friends from every race and age.
I have Muslim, Christian and Atheists friends (and friends of other religions). I have friends who support Trump and Clinton (and friends who loathe each candidate). I have heterosexual, homosexual and transgender friends.
I love each and every one of them.
We don't heal our lives or the world by judging and fighting.
We heal it by bringing love to a situation where it's lacking.
When we come to any conversation with an attitude of trying to understand another person versus prejudging them, we bring a new perspective into our own lives.
We grow by opening up our hearts to understanding (not by shutting them down)......Immediately followed by taking compassionate and inspired actions.
Are you ready to French Kiss Life this political season?
I urge you to take those strong emotions this political season, and DO something powerful with them:
Give someone a hug.
Donate money to a cause you believe in.
Talk about your views of the issues (not shaming those whose views may be different).
Show up and participate in peaceful protests.
Teach your children to be strong, kind and tolerant.
My wish for all of us today and beyond:
May we always be stay open, fascinated.
May we be at peace.
And, may we think and behave like mature, classy and elegant women.