We Have More Influence Than We Realize

This post is not about political candidates. It’s about how I’m finding peace in the midst of everything going on right now.

I really struggle with contention and division. Whether in relationships or politics or what-have-you, contention will cause an immediate rise to my stress levels, trigger my fight-or-flight, and it’s not uncommon for it to end in tears.

I’ve never cared about politics until this year, and boy, is it exhausting. It’s that contention and division. There’s just so much of it right now. For a while, I was choosing my “fight” response (or rather, adamantly reminding everyone to fact check and refer to factual and unbiased news outlets). More recently, I turned to my “flight” response, choosing to just hibernate for the next month or so until the election is over (COVID-19 prepared me for this! I’m totally good being alone!). But neither of those really get me anywhere—or get anyone anywhere.

While my blood still occasionally boils and I regularly have to talk myself down, I’ve realized some things that are helping me feel a lot better about the election. If you want to feel more peace, this blog post is for you. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Two things that are helping me feel peace:

  1. We each have the incredible ability to bring peace and happiness into our spheres of influence. From ourselves, to our families, our neighbors, our communities… we have the greatest say in what happens there. This is true no matter the outcome of the election.

If we are concerned about tax rates changing, we still have a say in how we choose to budget and spend our money, even if that looks different next year. If we don’t feel that the country’s leadership is doing enough in a certain area (poverty, homelessness, sex trafficking, women’s rights), we can choose to volunteer our time or donate a portion of our income to private organizations championing those causes. If we are struggling financially, there are still private organizations that can help, including food banks, job coaches, or other resources. If you’re a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have help available to you, and I know that goes for other religious organizations as well.

If there are other situations that you are concerned about, I invite you to think prayerfully and creatively about how you can make a difference in those areas. I honestly believe we have more influence in our families and communities than we sometimes realize.

  1. A gal I follow on Instagram (@rosiecard) has said multiple times that if we hear a piece of news that seems too outrageous, scandalous, or terrifying…it probably is. Check the facts. Do a simple Google search. Look at what other news outlets are saying or, even better, go directly to news outlets that are factual and centered (check the Media Bias Chart to see what news organizations those are). When you choose to look at news organizations that report ONLY the facts without commentary, YOU can create your own opinion as to what is REALLY happening.

I say this noting that I used to read CNN for my national news, which is less fact-based and left of center. CNN is the left’s equivalent of Fox News. Even though I often agree with the commentary on CNN, and it kind of warms my heart to know I’m not alone in how I’m feeling, I now choose to go straight to NPR, Associated Press, or Reuters—top and centered on the media bias chart. 

I’ve also talked to people who choose to read Fox News AND CNN, making sure they see what both sides are saying about an issue. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this as well, as long as you keep an open mind.

Especially during this season, it seems that some media is trying to scare people into thinking one way or another, which I don’t think is correct or ethical. Often, the truth is not nearly as bad.

And if it is, you can still choose how you respond. Go back to point #1. How can you be a positive light in your world?

I hope this helps. Again, I’m sharing these two realizations in hope that it helps bring you some hope and peace of mind. Whatever happens—in the world, in politics, in relationships, in your homes—you are still going to be okay, and that you still have a great impact on your personal sphere of influence.