Your involvement in politics is vital to the health and survival of our communities and our country. Politics, however, can be a bit brutal. In order to stay involved and stay healthy, you need to take care of yourself. Here are a few things to keep in mind before engaging in politics.
Golden and Platinum Rules
The Golden Rule says we should treat others the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule says we should treat others the way they want to be treated. Both rules teach us important lessons about taking care of ourselves and taking care of others. We need to do both. Sometimes we can treat others the way they want to be treated, filling up their cup and helping make their day. Other times we might need to treat others the way we want to be treated, doing things that fill our cup and help us keep going. No one needs to be sacrificed on the altars of politics. We can help take care of each other.
Share the Care
Expanding a little bit on the point already made, it’s worth noting that taking care of yourself is interconnected with how you take care of others. When other people feel validated and positive as they interact with you, they validate and create a positive experience for you too. Some people may need a little more time before they are able to be positive about politics, depending on how much they have been hurt before. But that’s part of caring for them. Give people space to show their own pain as they grapple with you — a kind and caring person. It usually doesn’t take people too long to respond to your kindness, which can have a huge positive impact on you.
As much as your kindness and care can transform the political environment around you, it’s still very important to set boundaries. These boundaries may include your own internal boundaries which you set to make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself. It might also include boundaries you set with certain people you interact with regularly. These people might be those you notice prove to be a particular challenge for you. Be realistic and understanding that some things just take time to change (yourself included). While things are changing, you don’t have to subject yourself to things that make you unhappy or sap your strength. It is okay to leave some conversations unfinished.
It’s All Perspective
As you start to engage in politics, either by engaging in conversation or by volunteering and spending time on projects, it’s important to remember that each person involved may see things differently. That’s good. We need different perspectives to come up with better solutions.
Seeing something differently doesn’t make you or the other person more or less right. Remember that everyone comes into politics feeling like their perspective is the right one. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, however, when you feel like the other person isn’t valuing your perspective.
What can we do?
It can help if we are willing to shift our perspective first and try to see things from another point of view. Whether we agree or not is less important. With this shift, we can start making the necessary connections and validating someone else. This can make a big difference in building towards important progress.