You probably didn't believe it could happen, but Donald Trump is the president-elect. It's happened. And, understandably, a lot of people are wondering what we're going to do next. What any of us can do next. We've had an election that has exposed every fault line in America, that has encouraged every prejudice— misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, ablism, just to name a few. It's easy to feel like it's all too much and to want to just give up. It's also easy to start spreading the hate around, throwing blame and anger in every direction or to let your frustrations get the best of you.
But you have to fight that instinct. "If you are feeling scared, enraged, upset, or otherwise distressed, recognize when you've had enough and consider what you can do to feel better," Marni Amsellem, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, tells Bustle. "When you realize you're hitting an uncomfortable level of discomfort, surround yourself with calm. Turn off the TV, put your phone away, and don't go online for a little while. Turn on some music, take a bath, take the dog for a walk, or listen to a meditation app. Breathe. Whatever it is that brings you calm, take that moment of calm unapologetically."
Take care of yourself, that's the most important thing. Because the truth is, the only wrong responses to the election are the ones that allow hate and animosity to get the better of us:
1. Telling People How To Cope
I get where this comes from, but as much as we may want some optimism right now, we can't tell anyone how to feel right now. Some people need to process this.
"People will express their feelings about the election on their social network streams as a form of therapy," Clarissa Silva, Behavioral Scientist and author of relationship blog You're Just A Dumbass, tells Bustle. "They are venting their fears, frustrations, anger and disappointment. We must also keep in mind that for many they are within the spectrum of grieving about their future, disappointment with their peers, or about their children’s future. A healthy approach to watching your streams today is to allow them to express their emotions and let them cope and mourn in their own way."
If you're in shock, if you're frozen, if you're crying your eyes out — I get it. You're not weak and you're not doing something wrong — you're giving yourself the time that you need. Give yourself a moment, and allow yourself a catharsis.
2. Saying That "Hate" Has Won/America Is Dead
I know it can feel that way, I know it look that way. But, while results are still trickling in, it seems likely that Trump did not win the popular vote. It's something — I know it's not enough in our Democracy, but it's something to remember.
And even with all the people who voted for Trump, that doesn't mean that "hate" has won. Because that means it's all over — that means giving up. Yes, this is discouraging and we clearly have some work to do, but it's not time to give up — it's time to make change.
Giving Up Completely
Once we settle down, once everyone has slept and thought and wrapped their head around this, then it'll be time to fight for what you believe in. We know that Millennials voted for Clinton, so it's easy to think that the country will eventually age out of these sorts of decisions, but there's still so much work to be done.
And you can do whatever feels right to you. Maybe you want to protest, maybe you want to get more Millennials registered to vote, maybe you want to volunteer to help the LGBT community or the Mexican community or the Muslim community. There are way too many communities that are going to need some support. So get out there and help.
And remember, love always trumps hate.