What can you do?

Almost daily four years ago, following the results of the previous elections in US, I pitched four different media outlets in Finland about the topic of how to overcome election disappointment, or any other disappointments in life, come to that.

Following the fearful responses in 2016, I felt like there has to be something I can do to help people overcome this disappointment (yes, I was one of those disappointed) and to not get completely stuck in the fear of the future.

Three out of four media outlets came back to me immediately wanting to make a story about my pitch idea. One was a live interview in one of the biggest radio channels in Finland, another was a phone interview turned into news piece with a slight change of topic, and the third one was a wider discussion on the topic of handling disappointments on a major afternoon radio show few weeks later.

Why did I pitch the topic? Cause I’d been through so many disappointments in that particular moment in my life and coming face to face with the election disappointment I knew how to handle the freeze mode that may follow.

What I’ve learned, most importantly, whether about disappointment or recovering from positive overwhelm, is to recognize and acknowledge the feeling and to let yourself feel it. Not trying to rush through it to move on, or worse, to run away from it. Many of our problems originate from us not being able to stay still and do nothing when in emotional roller coaster.

When in strong emotional state, it’s much harder to see clearly. Any action taken from unclarity, whether negatively or positively colored, is usually not well considered action, leading us to troubles way. When we allow ourselves to be still through the outburst of the feelings, not doing anything, except maybe consciously observe how we feel, it won’t take too long before the worst is over and you start to calm down. That’s when you start to see more clearly again. And it’s easier to consider what you actually can do in that moment.

The nature of feelings is to come and go. That’s how we know that no feeling state is going to last forever (meaning that we would only feel that one feeling, and nothing else, for the rest of our lives). Already trusting in that, we can be sure it’ll get easier at some point.

This is easy to see with, for example, laugh. I’ve never met a person who was afraid that she or he would never stop laughing, have you? When the laugh comes, we let it in and laugh. Sometimes it takes just seconds, sometimes minutes. Hardly ever hours. And when it’s time for the laugh to go, we let it go and move on to other feelings.

Yet, for unknown reason, we don’t always do that with the more unpleasant emotions. We try to hang on to them, as if we’d like to grab them by the horns and keep with us for the rest of our days. We do it by endlessly talking about what is wrong and dwelling in the problem.

That’s when the magic question of “what can I do” comes in handy. It shifts your focus on things that you actually can affect and act upon. It directs your attention to the solution. What we focus on, grows.

No matter what happens, we can be the change we want to see in the world.