Presidential Elections and Coping with Disappointment

November 2, 2020

Louis Tay

This week, the entire nation will be focused on the presidential elections. 

While I am not a seer and cannot know the results before Tuesday, November 3 – I know that many people are bound to be disappointed with the election results. Our nation is sharply divided, and no one result will be able to please everyone.

Many people will be disappointed and grieved. It is inevitable. Yet, research on well-being has shown that there are productive and less productive ways to go about disappointment. Here are a few coping tips: 

  1. Focus on what you have in your life rather than what you did not get. Because humans are evolutionarily wired to pay attention to negative news and outcomes, we will ruminate on negative outcomes. It is critical to be aware of this tendency in all of us. Further, we need to take steps to be mindful of what we currently have in our lives that we can be grateful for. Practice thinking of the ‘haves’ whenever you encounter a ‘have not.’

  2. Recognize that daily joys are within your control. It can feel devastating and overwhelming, particularly when one feels like our country is steering out of control. It is essential to recognize that there are many everyday joys to be gained that the election results will not touch. Well-being science shows that many daily well-being experiences are based on our attitude and choices that we make. Therefore, we are still in control of our daily lives – and we can find contentment and happiness regardless of the election results.

  3. Use this as an opportunity to connect with others. Research shows that positive coping strategies such as connecting with others ameliorates negative stressors. You can use this as an opportunity to reach out and share with others your disappointment and process your thoughts and emotions. When you are ready – you may even be able to go out of your comfort zone to share your experience with others who are not politically aligned. I encourage you not to do this over social media but to do it in a conversation with others you trust and respect.

Be well, 


Dr. Louis Tay

Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science.  Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!

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