Assuming he completes his second term, President Bush will leave office on January 20th, 2009. I learned this upon closer inspection of a date I've seen prominently displayed on several bumper stickers over the last few months. Obviously, the owners of the cars are so upset with the President that they feel the need to communicate their displeasure to anyone who drives by them. I believe in free speech and have no problem with people having such bumper stickers (I'm sure there were similar ones out there during Bill Clinton's second term). What concerns me is how some people allow their passion about things such as politics to completely consume them.
Let's face it, we all have things we believe in and are passionate about, but we do ourselves a disservice when we allow that passion to eclipse the other parts of our lives and destroy our relationships with those that don't see things our way. I often wonder when belief-rage will start getting the media attention that road rage gets. Imagine the headlines:"Fight breaks out in voting booth!"
I'm sure at some point, there will be a twelve step program to help people deal with belief-rage, but in the meantime, there are three things we can do to prevent this rage from controlling us.
First: Put that energy to good use. So you're unhappy with the direction of your precinct, town or the entire country - then do something productive. Learn about the issues, meet with community and political leaders and educate the public on your position. Avoid being a chronic complainer - someone that always finds something to complain about no matter what the situation. Sitting around constantly complaining will do nothing except ruin your social life. Take action - life is not a spectator's sport. If you're not doing something to remedy the situation, then what right do you have to complain about it?
Second: Stop wishing your life away. The bumper sticker is the perfect illustration of this: Why treat someone else's term in office like you're a kid in grade school counting down the days until summer vacation? Is everything in your life really that bad? Are you blaming the wrong person for your situation? The point is that every day will come and go regardless of how we feel, so why not make the best of things? Each day, there are great things happening not only in our own lives, but all over the world. Try looking for some of the positive things that are happening - remember, time flies when you're having fun.
Finally: Don't give others power over you. I know a couple that once took a long road trip across the US. Around the halfway point, another driver cut them off and the husband complained about the incident for the remainder of the trip - nearly six hours! Do you think the driver that cut him off gave him another thought even six minutes after the incident? There are people that wake up miserable each day because a certain person is in an elected position - and that position can be anything from a town selectman all the way up to the President. Do you think that these elected officials care that these people that feel that way? Remember, you are the only one that can decide how you're going to feel at any given moment - don't freely hand this power over to others.
Escaping this mentality is not an easy one - it takes awareness and self-control. If you find yourself caught in this downward spiral, then take things one day (or even one hour) at a time. Pay attention to what you say and how you react to things and work to improve yourself over time. If you don't feel that allowing others to control your mood is a problem, consider the epilogue to the story of the couple on the road trip: one year after the incident, I ran into the wife at the store and she told me the story about the trip, citing it as a primary example as why she had filed for divorce. It's too late for them, but it may not be too late for you.
C 2007 James Feudo (First Rights)
James Feudo is a speaker, author and consultant specializing in communication skills. James has developed a series of seminars to help people improve how they communicate with themselves, others and to groups. You can learn more about James at www.jamesfeudo.com.