If you live in the UK, you'll be well aware that on Friday June 24th the referendum on whether we should remain or exit the EU gave us a Leave vote. Brexit became a reality. Now, this isn't going to be a political post and despite the fact it will become obvious which way I voted as you read, I felt compelled to tell you what I learnt from this experience on an emotional level and these 4 lessons can be applied to any situation in relationships, in work, in life, which is why I mention it here.
Lesson 1. Take a Clearing breath before you react/respond
Hearing the news at 6am on Friday morning. I was in shock. Tears streamed down my face and I had a very strong reaction to the result.
In the last few months I have seen various events unfurl on Facebook, which have left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The death of Harambe the gorilla, and the vilification of parents who turned their back for a minute; the arrest of a paedophile in my local town and the subsequent outpouring of venom and lynch mob comments that followed; a video of Muslim protestors with extreme views around Islam and the state that spurred malicious, racist generalisations about ALL Muslims. These events consolidated the fact that two wrongs don't make a right and how judgemental we as humans can be. It also made me feel strongly that I would not engage in tit for tat keyboard warrior tactics on Facebook as it ultimately achieves nothing in real terms. So what was I doing suddenly feeling compelled to respond on threads to which I had an opposing view.
It served no purpose and was stirring up the negative emotions in myself, and the person with whom I was engaged in a counter argument. I'm not suggesting we don't have differing opinions or express our views, but when emotion is running high and both parties feel they are right. It is unlikely that the communication will be constructive. I witnessed huge generalisations and judgements on both sides of the remain and leave campaign, which will only divide our families and countries further if we let it.
The lesson I learnt, and the reason I stepped away from Facebook for a few days, was that I needed time to hear what I was feeling. I needed to absorb how others might feel and allow myself to consider both sides before I responded, or decide if it was even necessary to respond. So often in life we need to step back and breathe before we respond.
Lesson 2. Allow all the feelings
What was also interesting was that there were many posts telling those for whom the vote hadn't gone their way to 'shut up, get on with it, be positive.' Whilst, I agree that it was a democratic vote, one side lost over the other, and all the talk of another referendum to gain a remain result to me is nonsensical. The vote came in it should be respected and yes we will have to work with it. However, it is also necessary for those who feel shocked, saddened, lost, angry or concerned to be able to express those feelings and to explore what they mean to them.
There is a loss here for some people and like any grieving process, if those feelings are buried they will come out in people's behaviour later. Personally, I have chosen to explore those feelings away from Facebook and on line platforms , but each to their own. Grieve needs to be experienced before any healing can begin.
Lesson 3. Respond to the Action Signals
Like in any situation, once you have felt the feelings it's best not to wallow in them as they can become negative and keep you stuck, but listen to them and act on them. There are Brexit voters who are angry that we don't get to remain. OK so what can you do about it? Can you join a protest march? Sign a petition? Show compassion and kindness to all the Europeans that you meet and reinforce that this wasn't a vote against them,but of a system that isn't working for a large part of the country, whether you agree with them or not? If you are sad, can you allow the sadness and then look at your options? In any given situation we chose how we react. How will you react? If you voted leave and are excited about the new 'independent' horizon you truly feel you are leading Britain towards, what will you do personally in your own community to make this happen? How can you prove to the remain voters that this was the right decision and develop a stronger UK?
You've expressed the feelings. Now it's time to act on them. Be Solution Focused and work with any challenges faced.
Lesson 4. Accept what you can and can't control
This historic event has the UK coming out of the European Union. It is important to accept what we can't control and to act where we can. For me, whilst the politicians and financial markets work out a plan forward at their end, I have no control of those outcomes or actions. However, I know what I can do is find connections through my global business, show love for people all around the world, build a business that is flexible to adapt to whatever the system throws at me. Use the digital expertise of myself and others to get around the constraints that governments and borders put on me. So that's what I intend to do.
We can only control how we react to what is thrown at us in any given situation. If you want to try to change something, take action. If you want to work with the changes that have been imposed on you, take action. But however we do it, doing it from a place of love and pro active consideration for the feelings you have felt has got to be more productive than being a knee jerk keyboard warrior reaction, hasn't it?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these lessons in the comments. No political commentary is necessary. Thank you.