When I stumbled upon a New York Times article by Lesley Alderman called The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking on my newsfeed, shared by my one of my favorite college professors, I saved it with the intent of reading it later that day. Then in a not surprising turn of events, I didn't read it until way later. Why? Because sometimes we just want to have something to complain about and this whole mindfulness/positive thinking thing was cramping my style.
Since the election, I've been in a cycle of reading and watching satirical political comedy to make me feel better. It's satisfying to watch (my fave) Samantha Bee and to see and hear someone who is vocalizing your exact feelings ; but I can't help but wonder how productive this actually is. It was hard for me to get to this point by myself though. My best friend, a political science and public health double major and my go to resource for basically everything politics, brought it up to me the other day.
"So yeah, even if Sam Bee is technically pointing out both sides' flaws, she's still a comedian. We have to do more. It's like that line from The Newsroom, 'You know why people don't like liberals? Because they lose.'"
It seems like calling Donald Trump an attention-hungry-orange-egomaniac who (period, end of story) does not care about working class Americans isn't a strong enough foundation for an argument against him. I know, it's all true, but at this stage in the game, it's the easy way out and drives home the points made against progressives and liberals. And for me to say that to someone who, regardless of how invested they were in their vote for him, still voted for Trump, that I simply think he is incapable of the presidency would be counterproductive. Conversations can't be had when we're plagued by negative thoughts; by obsessing over something that we can't control or we can't change someone's mind about.
In The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking, Alderman discusses the process of negative thinking and how to begin to conquer it. The methods she proposes are, of course subject to interpretation, BUT I see them as being really well applicable to post-election negativity. (Almost) everyday I go into a spiral of thoughts about what's going to happen to the country/the world during Donald Trump's presidency. I spend a decent amount of my days in transit to either work or home, so my internal thoughts are given ample time to 'blossom.'
"'Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts.' Dr. Beck said. [a psychologist and the president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy] 'Instead, notice that you are in a negative cycle and own it. Tell yourself, 'I'm obsessing about my bad review.' Or 'I'm obsessing about the election.'"
Trump loves when he's insulted because it gives him attention and a reason to complain about 'flunky' Hillary Clinton supporters. I want to take the energy from my negative thoughts and transfer it into having conversations with the voters who made Trump's victory possible.
If everyone who calls themselves a progressive - who believes strongly in implementing smart healthcare policies, investing in renewable energy, combating racial and gender inequality, embracing diversity, in general reform and civil liberties - works towards engaging in conversations where they can defend those values in a way that plants a seed of wisdom into the brain of someone who voted for Trump, then that's how we can stop 'losing.'