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Resilience

Can Voting Make You More Resilient?

A simple step to give you greater ability to handle stress.

sideroff photos
Source: sideroff photos

We don’t typically think of voting from a psychological perspective. In fact, for most Americans it is something we don’t think about at all. The United States ranks 26th among industrial countries in voting participation. Americans are near the very bottom of the participation scale, with only 55.7% of the voting age population voting, compared, for example to 87.2% of Belgium citizens.

But I would suggest that exercising the voluntary “right” to vote contributes to the enhancement of all 9 pillars of my model of resilience. In other words, by engaging in the voting process, by voting, you can increase your level of resilience. How is that possible?

Power

We can begin by addressing the notion of self-efficacy, the feeling that you have agency or can exert some control over your life and your environment. The more you feel the ability to control what goes on in your life, the greater a sense of competency and thus the less stress and anxiety you will experience. This is related to my ninth pillar of resilience that I refer to as Power, or the ability to get things done. Voting can give you a greater sense of power, based on this definition, and thus enhanced resilience.

No Regrets

How much of your time is wasted dwelling on mistakes that you made, or opportunities that you didn’t take advantage of? We spend a lot of time regretting what we did or didn’t do. This is wasted time, but it also adds to emotional unfinished business and being upset with ourselves. This is related to my sixth pillar of resilience, emotional balance and mastery, and thus leaves us feeling less resilient. Voting will enhance your resilience by eliminating any sense of regret for not participating in the process, fostering greater emotional balance.

In addition, when we carry regrets, and emotional unfinished business, it is an ongoing distraction from being present, my seventh pillar of resilience. In other words, by voting you will experience less regret that can distract you from being present, and this will result in greater resilience.

How you feel about yourself

The first pillar of resilience is your relationship with yourself. Much of the time this relationship is impaired by a tendency to be self-critical and finding what you do wrong. The goal is to support the development of a healthy relationship with yourself. We can refer to this as the way you treat yourself and talk to yourself; having a healthy “internal parent”. You can support this development of a healthy internal voice by engaging in the positive behavior of voting. By recognizing that you are doing something good, it supports the development of a healthy and positive internal voice. This process will help you resist your negative self-judgments resulting in greater resilience.

Community

My third pillar of resilience is “relationship with something greater”. This component is about how one is engaged with the larger community, beyond their personal relationships. This pillar includes spirituality, creating meaning and purpose in your life and giving service. By giving your life a broader context and horizon it tends to make every day hassles less impactful, as you look at the bigger picture.

This pillar of resilience also addresses another common experience in today’s world: feelings of isolation. Connection with the internet is not the same as a personal connection or a sense of belonging. When you vote, you are engaging with the larger community and you will feel more connected. This can be reassuring. In a sense you are also giving service, as you are helping the community choose its leaders. And finally, voting helps give you a greater sense of commitment, meaning and purpose to your life. All of these things enhance this third pillar of resilience.

Increase your resilience on Tuesday

I hope this connection between voting and developing resilience encourages you to do something rather simple that can result in improving personal qualities that will help you better handle stress and experience greater satisfaction in your life: Vote!

You can learn more about my nine pillars of resilience and success and your own resilience levels at my website: www.DrStephenSideroff.com

Dr. Sideroff is the author of “The Path: Mastering the Nine Pillars of Resilience and Success”

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