Though the election season is (thankfully) coming to a close soon, the negative news regarding political candidates continues and seems to be intensifying. And, unfortunately, we are seeing a great deal of that evidenced on our social media feeds, preferred news outlets and in our daily conversations, even within our recovery communities. The latter reality can be straining on a newly sober mind.
As such, it is important for those of us in recovery to find ways to navigate this election while being sober. Thankfully, that's not as difficult a task as steering clear of political conversations altogether. In fact, the desire to do so brings us to the first suggestion:
1. Set boundaries.
Though reality is something we all have to learn to deal with in recovery--something we are generally accustom to escaping or avoiding--we do have the right to set personal boundaries when reality becomes overwhelming. Whether those boundaries are by way of social media, like unfollowing or unfriending someone who is not respectful of your views or seemingly toxic, or face-to-face conversations, you have a right to simply suggest a change of subject or, if needed, disconnect from someone completely, even if just temporarily.
2. Accept and respect differences.
It's really quite simple; agree to disagree. That's the easiest way to deal with opposing views. This late in the game, there's likely no way you're going to change your mind, and the same goes for the other person. So, to avoid the loss of a friendship or connection, it is best to simply accept the fact that you don't agree and respect each other, regardless. And, since you cannot control what another person does or doesn't do, if this is not a workable solution for someone else, it may be time to set the aforementioned boundaries involving disconnection.
3. Take breaks from social media and TV.
It's always a good idea to take a break from social media and television. The more we stay plugged in, the less likely we are to enjoy nature, social events, connection with family and friends in face-to-face settings, etc. Getting away from the noise of political chatter blaring across the tv screen and social media news feed is a very healthy and needed way to maintain serenity and sanity.
4. Engage in solution-oriented conversation.
Conversations about issues surrounding politics can often be very important, intellectually stimulating ones. In that way, it can be a time of growth and progress for everyone. But it important to engage only in those conversations which offer solutions or, at least, pose some positive spin, rather than merely focusing on the problems and burying everyone in negativity. The world's current issues may, indeed, be bleak. However, as recovering individuals, we are more aware than anyone of ways to find a sliver of hope in even the darkest day. As such, if we can't find a solution-oriented conversation, or one focused on a shift in perspective, it may be a call to start one.
5. Express yourself, regardless.
Though it seems like no post on social media goes undebated, there is still a need for you to feel free and, more importantly, emotionally safe to express yourself. Your thoughts, opinions, feelings, ideas and experiences all matter just as much as anyone else's, and you have just as much right to express them. If you're not yet comfortable to stand firm in that truth and face potential conflict while carefully confronting those who seek to debate, this is likely not the best time to throw yourself out there. However, you do still need to find a safe way to express all the thoughts and feelings likely surfacing and swimming around as a result of all the chatter. Keeping a private journal is a great way to do this. Additionally, talking things out with trusted friends (whose views are similar), with yourself (aloud, in your home or while driving in your car) or with a helping professional (life coach, counselor, spirit guide, etc.) can be very helpful methods of venting and processing.
Regardless of the ways in which you decide to navigate this election while maintaining sobriety, be sure to guard against your serenity and sanity too. Remember, recovery is more than mere sobriety. And, of course, it's a lifelong process. The election season is not. This too shall pass.
Toshia Humphries is a Texan freelance writer, artist, life coach and talk radio co-host of Girl Power Hour on Blog Talk Radio. She has been writing for two decades and possesses three degrees in counseling and psychology with a focus on addictions and women's studies. She is also the creator of Threads Locks & Rock""a performance art show which utilizes personal experiences and stories to inspire each show and its performers, healing and empowering them and audience members alike. Much of her work is fueled by her own life experience and education.