Episode 044: Holding Both the Messy Middle

Episode 044: Holding Both the Messy Middle

A few thoughts on the election. Doesn’t matter who you voted for, we all need a reminder that the key to healing lies in embracing the messy middle.

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Hi, and welcome. You are listening to the Stories and Requests to Live Happier podcast, and I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor, and in this podcast, I share my stories and lessons I’ve learned, and I keep learning on my quest to live happier.This is episode 44, called, Holding Both.

Hello, there. Welcome to the podcast. It is the Friday after election day, and I knew I wanted to do a podcast this week and it has been a crazy week as most of you are experiencing with the election. I was trying to come up with what I really wanted to talk about for this podcast because the nation and people I know and everyone is kind of reeling from this election in a variety of ways. Whether you voted for Trump or Hillary, people are just really feeling this election more strongly than in the past.

Today I wanted to talk about, after much debate and trying to figure out what it is I really wanted to say on this platform, I really kept coming back to my own personal struggle. My own personal struggle this week is how do you do both? How do you hold my own sadness? To be blunt, I voted for Hillary. How do I hold my own sadness and my grief that the election didn’t go the way I wanted, the country isn’t headed, I believe, in the direction I want it to go. How do I hold that, and how do I keep moving forward as the person I want to be, who is compassionate and curious and wanting to know about those people in my life, who I have many of, who voted for Trump and believe the country is headed into a positive direction with him?

Here we are, holding these two extremely different roles, and I think even if you voted for Trump and you won the election and you might be really blissed out about that, it’s still coming back and trying to be, how do we heal this country? How do we heal each other and listen to each other and be open, instead of just sitting in this gloriousness of, yay, I won, or, oh, I’m so sad I lost. That messy middle. Truly, that’s what I keep coming back to, because that is what living happier is all about is really being honest and intentional about that messy middle.

Right now, that’s where we are. As a country, we’re there. As individuals, we’re there. We’re all kind of like, what comes next? The counter to that is living in a place of blame and shame and ridicule and making fun of and demonizing and other-ing people. That’s happening now on both sides. The Hillary supporters are blaming the Trump supporters, and the Trump supporters are blaming the Hillary supporters for not taking it better. We’re all just sitting in this place of other and blame and shame.

I really wanted to talk today about the concept of holding both. Holding both is that I can be sad and upset about the results of this election, and I can walk into the world with compassion and love. I can be doing both of those. I can be celebrating that Trump won and being kind and considerate and curious about those, the people around me, that picked Hillary. I can be doing both of those. I can stretch myself to be doing both.

So often in life, we don’t want to do both because it’s messy. We’d rather just sit in our happiness and our joy that Trump won. We’d rather sit in our pain and our sorrow and just live there in the blame and the shame, or live there in the joy and the bliss and the “I won. We won. We won,” rather than sitting with the “Wow, this is a messy situation.” That was the problem with the whole election is that it’s a messy situation and both candidates were messy. No one was really talking about the tough problems here and what the hard solutions we need as a country, and this stuff is not going to be fixed easily.

“There is no magic button” is one of my favorite quotes, because there is no magic button. In our lives and our personal quests for happiness and joy and being authentic and intentional, there is no magic button. In the country’s problems of trade and immigration and job loss and taxes and racism, all of that messy stuff, there is no magic button for that stuff.

One of my inner critic, monger things to do is to beat myself up for the fact that my life is small and my message is about healing the individual instead of working on a larger social justice issue. At the end of the day, I keep coming back to, if we could heal ourselves, we can heal the world. If we can show up individually and be kind and be generous and be compassionate, we can reach out across the aisle, as they say. We can reach out to those around us and get to know. The world is not absolutes, and right now we are living in a world of absolutes. If I am a Trump supporter, that means one stereotype. If I am a Hillary supporter, that means other stereotypes. We are not our stereotypes. We are so much deeper and complex than that.

Not only when we’re looking at others do we need to be aware of that complexity and depth, but when we’re looking at ourselves, we need to be aware of that complexity and depth. I can say I voted for Hillary and there are things on Trump’s platform that I agreed with. We have a messy middle. Until we start looking at that messy middle and really embracing that depth and that complexity and the fact that there is no magic button, and we really start holding both, which means holding that messy part. Holding the idea that I want one direction for the country, and the country is going in another direction right now. That I really am sad, and I want to be compassionate and kind.

Both of those are very true. We can be holding two completely opposed ideas at the same time, and when we can start stretching ourselves and practicing that idea of really pushing to two separate areas, we can live happier. It doesn’t matter if we voted for Trump or Hillary, or if we like vanilla or chocolate ice cream, these things are preferences that are dividing us. Instead of having the curiosity of what does that mean, let’s start having a conversation about what that means for you.

Yesterday, I had a client in my office, and it was two days after the election. I was still feeling pretty bruised, and she was a Trump supporter. We had an awesome conversation about what that means, and what it meant for me, and how she’d struggled in the past with different candidates. It was a really juicy, complex conversation between two women who strongly believed in their candidates and strongly loved this country, and really want to have compassion and kindness. Those are the conversations that need to be happening all over the place. Really be curious and understanding and to practice holding both. I can talk to you and listen to you and understand where you’re coming from, because I’ve taken the time to have empathy and compassion.

It’s not just about get out there and love the world. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying we need to be taking care of ourselves and honoring where we’re coming from, and we need to be compassionate with ourselves, with other people, with those around us. That can mean saying, you know what? I can’t talk about this right now. I can’t have this conversation. This is too much for me. I’m going to get off Facebook. I’m going to get off social media for awhile. I’m going to get off the news for awhile. All those things are valid.

We need to be taking care of ourselves, and then we need to be reaching out to those around us, and in larger context, trying to heal ourselves and other people. The only way we can do that is if we start embracing the mess and holding both. Holding those two completely different sides of the world and figuring out how to reconcile that.

Thanks for listening. If you have comments or anything you want to share with me, please email me: nancyjane@live-happier.com. I would love to hear from you and kind of engage in a dialogue around this stuff, because I really think this dialogue is where it’s going to start happening. The change is going to happen there.


Weekly Ritual Segment:

One thing that has really helped me Live Happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life so each week I am going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenge you to complete it

Name 5 Things You Are Grateful For

This is a repeat of one I’ve done in the past, but I thought this week especially for me, this was a good one to be implementing. What are the five things I’m most grateful for? Just to remind myself that the world isn’t all terrible, back to that black and white thinking, and there are things every day that I’m really grateful for that really stretch me. I do this ritual before I go to sleep each night. I try to, anyway, to look back on my day and just name the five things I’m grateful for. It’s a great way to end the day. A great way to fall asleep. A great way to review the day. I encourage you to really practice this week naming five things you’re grateful for.

That’s the show. Thanks for listening. The Stories and Requests to Live Happier podcast comes out every week. If you have questions, please email me: nancyjane@live-happier.com. Until next time, here’s to living happier.

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