THE ELECTIONS ARE OVER. ALL THE candidates?winners and losers alike?will have to settle down and be content with whatever cards fate dealt them. The winners will be excited and jubilant of their victory; the losers will have to lick their wounds and get up on their feet.
A reelectionist patient of mine wasn?t so fortunate this time and he called me up two days after the elections feeling some symptoms. Obviously, he felt depressed and felt like everything just caved in on him. He even feared of an imminent heart attack.
I assured him that based on the battery of tests we performed on him just before the start of the campaign, his heart was in good shape, and I don?t think he was at risk to have a heart attack. Except for his arthritis?which on hindsight was probably a factor why he wasn?t able to campaign enough?he was healthy for his age. He just needed to lose a few extra pounds which I hope the rigors of the campaign enabled him to shed off.
What I?m more concerned now is his intensely negative reaction to his loss. It?s normal for a losing politician to feel low at this point, but one should make a positive effort to get over it at the soonest possible time. Everyone has to go through the stages of emotional and mental recovery without exception.
Initially, some undergo a stage of rejection and disbelief over the outcome. Sadness and depression of varying degrees follow. More than ever, they will need their emotional support structure?their family and sincere friends?to help them ?process? their emotions and convert whatever negative emotions they have to positive ones. Something like looking at the glass as half-full rather than half empty, or thinking of valuable lessons being learned which will serve them well in the future. The sooner they accept their fate and be resigned to it, the faster will be the emotional healing and recovery.
Acceptance or conceding defeat is not a sign of a loser. Losing in one election is not being vanquished for life. One may have lost one round but there are more rounds ahead, and the sooner one stops crying over spilt milk, the better his chances of making good in the subsequent rounds ahead.
Harboring negative feelings and emotions such as feeling cheated, jealousy, envy, hatred, hostility or anger will only spell disaster for one?s health. And that?s the biggest irony of nursing these negative emotions and feelings. They won?t harm one?s foes; they will inflict serious harm on the one who harbors them. Gradually, like termites, these negative emotions will erode oneself and could make one a physical and nervous wreck in the end. When that happens, one is truly vanquished.
Helping overcome setbacks
I think this is the problem of politicians in the Philippines. In developed countries, politicians and people of great consequence usually have psychologists and mental-conditioning coaches to help them overcome setbacks and challenges. Here, politicians would be so wary seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, lest it be used as an issue in future elections. Truth is, there is nothing wrong with it, and it should in fact be recommended for those who may find it difficult to accept their defeat in the elections. These experts can help them in ?processing? their emotions so they can be well on the way to healing and recovery.
The ?processing? may take several sessions, wherein the person usually opens up to the psychologist or psychiatrist whatever negative feelings and emotions he or she has. One should not suppress any of these emotions and should in fact let them surface. One should accept that he or she cannot control them but is willing to release them, and better yet, sublimate them to positive emotions and feelings such as reconciliation, friendship, sincerity, cooperation and selfless service. One repeatedly visualizes in one?s mind the relaxed state one is in as he or she is able to successfully process one?s emotions.
Medicines such as tranquilizers or anti-depression pills may be prescribed initially, but eventually, these may no longer be necessary. Well, perhaps, not until the next elections.