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Psychology of Handling Court Ruling

BY CHIWOZA BANDAWE

The High Court will give its long awaited ruling on the Presidential Election case tomorrow, Monday 3 February 2020. How should you prepare for this psychologically?

We have all followed the case individually and collectively with our peers such that we may have come to conclusions about the way the judgement should go. It is important to therefore realize that the decision lies with the judges and the outcome is out of your hands.

There is nothing you can do. Whether you stress about it or lose sleep over it, what will happen tomorrow is what will happen. We waste so much emotional energy worrying about things that are beyond our control as though, worrying and being upset will somehow control them. We attach ourselves to certain outcomes which we have no control over.

Second, allow your mind to accommodate the possibility that your preferred ruling (if you have one) might actually not happen.

If there is headspace for this it makes it easier to accommodate “losing” tomorrow.

It is when you are so certain the outcome will be in your favour and it does not go in your favour,that accepting the undesired outcome becomes very difficult indeed. You have no room in your mind to adjust and accept an alternative outcome.

Remember that as we followed the case, we employed selective listening where we paid attention to the things that we wanted to hear and ignored those that were not consistent with our desired outcome.

Third, think long term. Any negative or hostile reaction tomorrow could be damaging to the country. Resolve, as is being requested by politicians, church and society leaders and others not to fuel violence.

Its normal to feel upset and hurt when your preferred outcome is not realized, grieve and mourn within, you are then better placed to overcome.

Fourth, be critical of social media posts, do not just accept everything you read as true. In particular question all posts: What is the source? what authority/ legitimacy does this post have? Avoid passing on inciting and unverified posts.

Be mindful of not getting caught up in crowd mentality, avoid just following crowds especially those engaging in destructive behavior.

Finally, my prayer for Judgement day is “Oh God Bless our land of Malawi, keep it a land of peace”!

(I acknowledge and thank my psychologist colleague Dr. Eric Umar for his input and suggestions on an earlier draft.)

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