By now you know we’ve got a major event happening in our nation this week: the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Now, many Americans are excited about this. They bought into Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” and can’t wait for him to get started. Others, however, are somewhat less than excited.
I understand this is a subject that brings out a lot of strong feelings. That’s really the reason I’m writing this: for all of us, Republican, Democrat, or whatever political stripe, to move beyond what we’re feeling and start thinking about how we’re relating to each other. So whether you think Donald Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or you think he’s the devil in an ill-fitting suit, I’ve got some words of advice for you.
Take Your Life Back, the book Dr. Dave Stoop and I recently published, teaches those who are “stuck” in the pain of traumatic loss that there’s another way to live. We show people the life you want isn’t “out there” somewhere, or dependent on your circumstances, or what others around you are doing. We want people to know that real and lasting change is achievable, not through who is president, but through how we think. Take Your Life Back teaches that no matter what pain or loss you’ve experienced, there’s a rich, vibrant, fulfilling life still to be lived.
To get there, however, we must learn to move beyond the pain of traumatic loss, past all the anger and sadness, into the realm of acceptance. There we can effectively deal with the new reality that faces us. If you opposed Donald Trump, you’re probably experiencing a loss right now. I believe the principles contained in Take Your Life Back can benefit those who are struggling to accept our new president. You can have experience a rich, rewarding life even with a new occupant in the Oval Office. Here’s how to get there:
- See the reality. The first thing you must do is accept the fact that you’ve experienced a loss. Push past the denial and come face to face with the harsh reality that the “story” you imagined you’d be living just isn’t going to happen. For those anxious about a Trump presidency, this can be a hard pill to swallow. But here’s the truth: Donald Trump won the election. He won it fair and square according to the rules our nation has in place and no amount of wishing things were different is going to change that. The alternative is to live (at least for the next four years) in a false reality filled with anger and bitterness over “what might (or should) have been.” That route might be emotionally satisfying on some base level. It might feel good to vent, but it won’t equip you to respond effectively to the events of the next four years. What’s more, that anger and bitterness will likely bleed into your personal life and affect how you relate with family and friends.
- Express yourself. Contrary to some on social media who might be telling you to “shut up and accept it,” it’s okay to express the feelings you’re having. This is a real loss for you and a real grieving process. Don’t let anyone convince you you’re just a “snowflake” and need to “get over it.” Don’t get me wrong, though. At some point, you’re going to need to move past this, not for the sake of anybody on Facebook, but for your own well-being. You can’t stay stuck in this part of grieving. But allow yourself the freedom to express the disappointment, regret and even anger that you’re feeling.
- Grieve the loss. Once you’ve faced reality and allowed yourself to express the negative emotions, now you’re ready to grieve. For many of you, inauguration day will be a profoundly sad day. Likely, you supported President Obama and are sad to see his term come to an end. You had a vision for a much different future that just isn’t going to happen, at least in the short term. That’s a kind of death to be experienced, so it’s perfectly understandable to feel sadness. Go with that. Have a good cry if you need to. It’s okay. But as with any step in this process, don’t get stuck here either. To do so is to subject yourself to a life of continued sadness and depression. Sadness over loss is a natural part of the grieving process; but if you don’t choose to get to the final step, it can overwhelm your life and your relationships.
- Accept the new life and move forward. Notice, I’m not saying “move on.” This isn’t about just aimlessly wandering to tomorrow. No, it’s about coming to terms with the new reality and living in it responsively, not just reactively. It’s about arriving at a place where you can make wise choices for yourself and in your relationships, not based off the negative emotions that control you, but on the new vision for your life you’ve created.
Donald Trump is becoming the next President of the United States. That’s an inescapable fact. His authority doesn’t extend to being dictator of your emotions and your life. You still have control over that and no policy or executive order can take that from you. If the reality of a Donald Trump presidency is robbing you of the peace and joy God wants for your life, then it’s time for you to take your life back.
A note to Trump supporters
To those excited by a Trump presidency, understand that not everybody shares your enthusiasm, probably even some of your friends and loved ones. Understand they’re going through these phases I listed above. If you truly care about them, give them the space to do so.
Getting into political discussions with them or trying to engage them when they’re venting isn’t going to change the way they feel, and it will likely damage your relationship. There’s probably nothing you’re going to say to make them like Donald Trump more. Maybe the best thing you can do is just let them vent and continue to love them.
Even though you’re excited about what President Trump might do for the United States, don’t let that enthusiasm damage important relationships in your life. You’re going to need these people a lot longer than he’s going to be in office.
Find out more about Take Your Life Back, and about the Take Your Life Back intensive workshops being offered in 2017. Resolve to make this year the one you say goodbye to a reactive life and move toward all that God has planned for you right now!
If you would like to give to New Life and help support our ministry, call us at 1-800-NEWLIFE, or click here to examine all the ways you can help others take their lives back.