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Politics is a highly emotional business and many people feel a personal stake in the outcomes of elections. So, dealing with a loss at the polls can be a serious event for supporters, voters and candidates alike.

 

Being on the losing side of an election may create distrust in the system and dissatisfaction with democracy.

 

Many people invest time, energy, money, and general support into campaigns. Voters can often feel frustrated by “the system” after an election loss and candidates may feel as if they let supporters down or vice versa.

 

Every election loss triggers sadness, loneliness and fatigue for some candidates, officials, supporters and voters. This has proved to be a particularly widespread phenomenon in the aftermath of our subsequent elections, given our country’s contentious political divide.

 

We rarely don’t typically talk about politics in the same sentence as grief and woe, but political scientists and psychologists have long recognized depression as a frequent response to loss,Mand that citizens who suffer from depression are less politically engaged.

 

There are five stages of grief as illustrated in a book called On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The stages that Kübler-Ross identified are usually thought of as applying to the death of a loved one, but they can be applied in other circumstances including you losing your cellphone or computer after you finish reading this article.

 

The DABDA stages of grief are Denial (and isolation),Anger,Bargaining,Depression and Acceptance. Not everyone experiences all the stages or in the same order, but they represent normal responses to high-stakes emotional losses.

 

These stages may manifest in different ways for individuals. Some may express anger at their rivals while others may be angry with themselves, their

Supporters, friends and family. Bargaining (you may call it ‘handshake’) may also look different from person to person; some may attempt to bargain with a higher power while others may attempt to bargain with outcomes and reality and say “if only we had campaigned harder…”

 

The one unfortunate truth about the five stages of grief is that not everyone makes it to the last stage of acceptance. Resisting realities with resentment or anger can have harmful effects on a person’s health and may also hinder future community and political dialogue.

 

The website Psych Central noted that traffic to their “5 Stages of Grief & Loss” page was up by 210% the day after Hillary Clinton lost the election in 2016 – and their most popular article was “Healing after the Election.” Similarly, Google Trends data on grief-related searches spiked following their 2008 and 2016 US elections.

 

Dealing with an election loss in a healthy way is important for individuals, the entire community and the electoral process. Holding on to resentment or anger over a loss at the polls could damage one’s health and ability to constructively contribute to society; it could also reinforce a divisive political environment, making the next election even more difficult.

 

To move into a place of acceptance, supporters, voters and candidates may want to apply the following sequence of coping strategies that can work for them.

 

First, give yourself breaks from the news and politics. Get enough sleep and eat well. Do some exercise, hobbies and outdoor activities.

 

Limit your time on social media, or better yet, log off altogether for a few days. While it’s a way to connect with other people and share information, it’s also a key source of political misinformation, disinformation and misinformation -hate speech, false and fake news. Too much time on social media can intensify your anxiety and depression.

 

Talk to a trusted family member, friend, community leader or find a social support group in your area or beyond physically or via phone of video. Social isolation intensifies negative feelings.

 

Electoral loss means having to contend with unwanted leaders or disliked policies. But accepting loss is part and parcel of democracy. Once you’ve accepted the outcome, get involved with politics by contacting elected officials, protesting, running for local office or donating money to or starting political groups.

 

According to Christopher Ojeda, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Tennessee in the US, instead of letting hurt sideline you from politics, use it to fuel the passion you felt before the election. Just like, if you were applying for a new job and failed to get it, you might focus on re-writing your resume, re-networking, and reviewing your interviewing skills.

 

So win or lose, we all have a stake in making sure the defeated heal quickly and are still heard after the election. While everyone will experience political loss differently and will respond differently to various coping methods, a general approach of moving from self-care to political empowerment may be a potent strategy for those who truly want change in their communities.

 

Focusing on who or what is to blame or even feelings of guilt won’t be as constructive as reflecting on lessons learned and on maintaining any relationships from the campaign. The circumstances surrounding an election, however, can be far too complex to be under anyone or anything’s control.

 

We should keep in mind that losing can actually be an empowering experience. For example, losing an election can open other local, national and international opportunities in government, private sector and diplomacy.

 

I have lost you along the way or vice versa? If your answer is yes, kindly re-read the article to know how to deal with losing.

 

 

 

Do you have a groundbreaking story you would like us to publish? Please reach us through mm@unreportedke.co.ke or WhatsApp: +254713104367. Contact Unrepoted Ke instantly. 

One Response

  1. Good website! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!

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