By Chinedu Chidi…
The 2019 presidential election is just days away. As expected, the atmosphere remains charged. The stakes are high. The gladiators and their supporters understand what it will mean to lose. They dread the very thought of electoral loss and its many far-reaching fallouts.
President Muhammadu Buhari and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively, are the main contenders. They have campaigned hard, traveling far and wide to sell their message, or more accurately, to demarket each other.
The day of reckoning is near. For many, the horse has already bolted. But for the embarrassing postponement of the election, the fate of the nation would already have been known.
But are the supporters mentally ready to deal with any negative outcome? Many clear signs say a resounding ‘No!’ Just like in 2015 where a fractious and polarizing electioneering yielded a historic outcome that pushed many supporters into a state of depression, 2019 also threatens a similar fate.
The hangover of the 2015 defeat was so strong on some supporters that they remained in a permanent state of bitter, unyielding opposition, not only to the current government, but to its supporters and any who would attempt to rationalise support for the president or any of his policies. A new army of ceaseless critics, or better still, lamenters, was born. And if the nature of the 2019 campaigns, especially with regards to social media exchanges, are anything to go by, an urgent intervention may be needed to rescue some supporters from themselves in the event of a loss.
There is no doubt that our politics is broken. Hopefully, not irrevocably so. In the future, it is hoped that a new culture of politics that transcends divisive narrow interests will emerge. For now, however, we have to save as many as we can from themselves, preparing them to be psychologically ready to be gracious in defeat and grow into active contributors to healthy civic and political engagement.
Here are five (5) ways Buharists and Articulators can deal with the heartbreak of losing the coming election:
1. Take a break from social media
Political discourse on social media has become so toxic that it might become very difficult to deal healthily with a high-stake electoral defeat. Many conspiracy theorists and sore losers will fill the space with enough distracting content to occupy the mind so much so that there will not be time for the introspection required to move on from defeat.
It might be good to take a break. Take time to reflect. Think deeply. Relax with loved ones. Recharge and return only when you are ready to take the high road.
If you can afford it, travel, whether it is outside the country or within the country. The objective should be to move to a serene place away from stress that will allow you rest your mind and body and prepare you for an energised and more purposeful return to your routine.
If you cannot travel, try to visit or temporarily relocate to places within your locality that can serve the same purpose.
Sex has been said to be a great stress reliever. As you hurt from defeat, seize the opportunity to deepen intimacy with your spouse. It might also provide a good opportunity to improve your relationship with your husband or wife. Out of defeat may spring forth a healthy, thriving relationship!
Although it is not a common practice around here to seek the help of counsellors while stressed or depressed, it is a culture we must begin to develop. The impact of stress and depression to life, work and relationships cannot be overemphasised. Find a counsellor. Get help if the pain seems unbearable. Heal. Recharge. Re-emerge better.
5. Get Drunk
DISCLAIMER: You did not get this advice from me!
If the defeat deals an excruciating pain, you may consider finding succour in alcohol, but only on the first night. Do not extend this. Like many have argued, alcohol can only temporarily numb the pain. When its grip loosens, the heart reels again from the pangs of reality.
So, get drunk, but remember, the antidote to pain will be found only in your sober state.
No matter what the outcome of the election is, we must remember that we are all in the same boat. A band of fellow citizens with shared history, heritage, dreams and aspirations struggling to stay afloat the ocean of despondency. Politicians will come and go but Nigeria will remain. Or will it?
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