Relating After the Election

A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist shares how to embark on post-election healing and enjoying the holidays with friends and family who hold completely different political viewpoints from you.

By Adrienne Alden

We have seen the headlines.  We have somehow lived through it.  We can all agree that 2020 has been a wild ride.

 

Politics has certainly been a big part of this year’s stress.   We have become increasingly aware of the different ways to think about our country’s operations and future.  Now, we feel mixtures of excitement and worry as the new year draws closer.   We know that 2021 will no doubt bring more change and opinions.

 

Here are a few things to think about and do as you embark on the post-election healing journey and the holidays.

  • People who disagree with you have different information, life experiences, and perceptions.

 

  • Reminder not to take things personally.  Others’ opinions are not a personal attack on yours.

 

  • Ask yourself if you are only believing and perceiving facts that fit your point of view and not opening yourself up to alternative ideas.

 

  • Change starts from yourself not in trying to change others.

 

  • Consider the idea that two opposing things could be true at the same time.

 

  • Understand power dynamics.  The more we try to change someone’s mind the more they tend to dig their heels in and remain rigid about their own point of view.  Conversely, the more we dig our heels in the more intensely people tend to push their ideas.

 

  • Consider daring to go first.  If things are going to change, someone has to budge in the power struggle.  Ask yourself what it would take to be the first one to disengage from the power loop.  Perhaps walking away, or saying something like, “I hear ya”, “Your perspective makes sense given your experience”, “I am willing to consider what you are saying” or “I agree with a part of what you said.”

 

  • This one is hard- take a deep breath, exhale, and read: If you believe you have THE right answer.  Then you are part of the problem. If you think you have the only perspective then you have lost your ability to listen.  Listening is what puts others at ease.  When people do not feel heard they will in turn not listen.  Feeling unheard is one of the most common triggers of anger.

People who disagree with you have different information, life experiences, and perceptions.

- Adrienne Alden
  • This one’s a tough one too.  Work on accepting that sometimes you won’t be able to shift someone’s opinion.

 

  • Allow yourself to grieve.  It is genuinely painful to know that someone you love might have different beliefs and values than you.  Let yourself feel it and talk about it with a trusted person.

 

  • Don’t traumatize yourself.  If someone is expressing opinions that are deeply offensive or in opposition to your existence and core values.  Walk away.

 

  • Lastly, as the holidays approach at the tail end of a traumatic year think about taking some political breaks as you spend time with loved ones in person or digitally.  Make an announcement that you can’t wait to catch up with loved ones and want to enjoy the time.  Make it known that you want to hear about hobbies, kids, work, TV shows, etc.

 

  • Don’t have the news on during family functions.

Adrienne is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the nationally accredited program at Pfeiffer University. She takes patients at Relationship Restoration and has a passion for working with diverse cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles. Adrienne prides herself in being direct and compassionate with clients. Adrienne has had extensive training in Mindfulness and meditation and welcomes anyone who wants to learn more about it. Adrienne is experienced in working with communication struggles, high conflict couples, mismatched libidos, pelvic and genital pain disorders, premature ejaculation, delayed or difficulty with orgasm, erectile dysfunction, trauma recovery, life transitions, affair recovery, eating disorders, parenting adolescence, family of origin exploration, religious and spiritual exploration, gender role exploration, cultural influence, sexual orientation questioning.

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