I’m really rather glad the election will be over by the weekend. Aside from the normal irritations with paid political advertising, it seems that every second person on Facebook and Twitter is a political genius or posing some huge moral question and demanding an answer.
I agree it is important to know about and be involved in the democratic process. I agree that there are issues where people need to speak up and protest and campaign and all of that. I’m not saying that it’s good that so many of us are apathetic and confused about politics.
I tried to watch and read up on things initially and be more engaged than I have in past elections, but I was getting more and more disillusioned and frustrated and disappointed. I started thinking, “okay this year I’ll Make My Vote Count and vote below the line” but then looking at the ballot paper, how could I put numbers beside names without knowing a thing about them? That started to stress me out.
Then I realised that it was okay to stop worrying (and love the bomb? Sorry, ancient reference). I’ve realised that trying to take an interest in politics is no good for my mental health.
I’ve been using the Moodkit app to track my mood over the last few weeks, and it has a section called ‘thought checker’, which basically takes you through a cognitive behavioural therapy exercise. You write down a thought you’re having, how it’s making you feel, you identify what thought distortions might be making you feel that way, and try to formulate a different/better way of thinking.
Just looking through the list of thought distortions … so many of them seem to be what the political parties are using as campaign strategies:
– all-or-nothing thinking
– downplaying positives
– emotional reasoning
– fortune telling
– intolerance of uncertainty
– negative filtering
– ‘should’ and ‘must’ thinking
Wow. That’s almost all the things on the thought distortions list. These are things that are identified as being extremely unhelpful ways of thinking, as distortions. It’s no wonder I feel anxious and confused and stressed every time anyone talks about the election. It’s hard enough for those who have robust mental health, let alone those of us who are already prone to that kind of thinking!
Wall to wall media (whether the traditional or social kind) is really not that helpful. The fate of Australia does not rest on whether I, personally, vote above or below the line. My worth as a human being does not have anything to do with the numbers I put in the boxes. I can leave the complex numbering and preference concerns to those who are better informed and able to get into the fray. And that’s okay.
The only thing that comforts me in the midst of all of this is that God is still in control. No matter which party is elected and no matter who becomes Prime Minister, God is still God. And that brings me a mighty amount of peace.
PS: if you think this post is a little hyperbolic, I refer you to the above thought distortion list by way of explanation.