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When Politics Divide Relationships

When Politics Divide Relationships

The 2016 presidential election was historic in many different ways, and a decision of this outcome has left many relationships strained, perhaps even damaged. Modern politics can be much more damaging and invasive, particularly in the age of “fake news” and social media. Because of that, it’s easy to create your own echo chamber that solidifies your own personal beliefs while leaving you closed off to other opinions.

So what do you do when that divide invades your relationship?

When two dissenting views clash without any doors cracked open for outside perspectives, people can take it personally, and it can trickle down into other areas of the relationship.

Assess the Damage

With the election over, it’s time to assess the damage and consider where you may have caused harm in your relationship:

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Disrespect: Did you ever talk to your partner in a disrespectful way? This includes shouting, interrupting, or deflecting/blaming rather than actually listening to their point of view.

Minimizing: Did you ever minimize your partner’s opinion by refuting it through emotion? This is different than debating with facts; in these instances, you’re dismissing a point of view simply because of the subject matter.

Accusations by proxy: Did you ever accuse your partner of being prejudiced in a certain way because of their candidate’s’ perspective? The “Blame Game” immediately puts people on the defensive, and loading up accusations rather than discussing the issues rationally.

Ganging up: Did you ever call out your partner among like-minded friends or family to put them in an awkward situation? This creates an us vs. them mentality that only widens gaps between people.

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Healing Wounds

The first step in healing wounds caused by the election is to look at the points above and consider which ones you may have inflicted upon your partner. The second step is to apologize — and really apologize, not a mere “I’m sorry” but a thorough apology that acknowledges what you did wrong, why it hurt them, what you’d like to change, and if you can have their forgiveness.

Emotions are still running high from this election. The days following the election have shown us that, from media coverage to social media discussions to petitions circulating the Internet. At some point, you’ll probably want to hear your partner out as a means to take the final healing step. This may or may not be the right time to do it. The best way to assess that is to ask your partner if they’d like to talk about it.

Further Discussion

This election highlighted many issues, from social/cultural to economic to foreign policy. Just because the election is over doesn’t mean that the discussion will stop. In fact, given the reaction to the outcome and the overall inflammatory nature of the campaign, chances are the main players and primary issues will continue to be in the spotlight until at least the mid-term elections, and at that point, things will begin pointing to the 2020 campaign.

In short, this will probably come up again between you and your partner. So how can you have an open and constructive talk without descending into division? Consider the following steps to a healthy discussion:

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1) Stay respectful: Never raise your voice, call names (to your partner or your partner’s views), mock, or interrupt.

2) Ask for facts: If your partner cites something that doesn’t sit right, don’t immediately demean it. Instead, cite facts. Tangential to this, there has been much discussion lately about how social media puts a spotlight on clickbait and “fake news”/propaganda. A suggested bonding experience is both sides as a couple researching “fake news” and how to better get facts into the discussion.

3) Keep an open mind: Everyone has an opinion. However, while a two-party system often creates a presentation of binary thinking, the truth is that social and economic situations are infinitely more complex. Don’t just listen to your partner, consider what they’re saying. Even if you disagree with them, search for the one or two elements that you do agree with and start by discussing that.

4) Present your point of view with empathy: Saying that rust-belt workers are hurting or that women face everyday misogyny might be accurate but it’s a clinical description. Instead of presenting it that way, try explaining the person behind the statement. What is at stake when rust-belt workers can’t find jobs? How do women feel when casual misogyny impacts their everyday lives? By putting your partner in the shoes of these examples, it becomes much easier to see.

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Remember, you’re in a relationship because of love, not division. A healthy discussion over differing opinions is good in any relationship. However, if this divide has grown too wide because of politics, please contact a licensed marriage counselor to discuss it — there may be underlying issues causing your relationship to fracture.

Featured photo credit: Nick Fuentes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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