Think about the last time you had a heated political disagreement with a relative. Maybe you butted heads over a hot-button issue. Or maybe you’ve always voted differently, and in recent years, the divide between you has deepened.
Dealing with political disagreements can be difficult, especially when you and your relatives have strong opinions and totally different perspectives! If you dread seeing certain relatives around the holidays or during family get-togethers because you’re anxious about getting into political debates, it’s time to reframe your approach to these conversations.
These tips will help you quell your anxiety and change the way you handle these political differences.
Find Common Ground
Sometimes, the best way to stop a discussion from getting out of hand is by finding something you agree on. You and your relatives may have differing world views. But you’ve likely shared some important experiences together and may have had similar upbringings.
If you can find a way to connect over something that you see eye-to-eye on, you can turn down the heat on the conversation.
Speak With Compassion
When you’re talking to a relative who just can’t seem to see your point of view, it’s easy to become frustrated. After all, you may feel strongly about a certain topic because of formative experiences in your past, or because a particular policy directly affected you. But your relative may feel the same way in regards to their own opinion.
Try to speak with compassion, even when you’re getting irritated. This can influence them to treat you with kindness as well.
When you’re connected with relatives on social media, you can see all the political content that they share. Maybe they don’t have the nicest comments for your posts, or maybe you’re always tempted to leave snarky remarks under the articles or statuses they share.
Resist this urge and find ways to connect offline instead. Online, it’s challenging to have a fruitful discussion. It’s all too common for a few comments to devolve into a debate that goes nowhere. Encourage people to put their phones away at family gatherings or to keep the news turned off. Spending time together without the distractions of political media can help to heal relationships.
What if you feel like a relative has taken things a bit too far? Maybe they’ve called you insulting names because of your views. Perhaps they have disparaged your occupation or volunteer work. Or maybe they can’t simply agree to disagree with you, even when you’ve respectfully asked to end a particular discussion and step back because it isn’t going anywhere.
In situations like this, it is okay to set strong boundaries and make it clear that unless all parties involved can be respectful, you will not be discussing political topics with this relative in the future.
Focus on Your Own Conduct
Remember, you can’t control the actions of anyone but yourself. If you’re getting nervous about interacting with a relative because of your political differences, remind yourself that you can always conduct yourself respectfully, even if someone else does not grant you the same courtesy.
Persuading someone over the course of one conversation isn’t your job. If someone wants to talk politics with you, all that you need to do is present your own views, be patient, and be willing to listen. Let go of what you can’t control and concentrate only on what you can.
Are you struggling to deal with a political divide between you and your family? Talking to a therapist can help. Reach out to us to see how therapy can help you navigate those tough political discussions.
- Click here to schedule your first session or set up a free consultation.
- Meet with one of our experienced and kind therapists.
- Start the process of receiving the help and support that you deserve.
Other Mental Health Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy
Life is complex and therefore a person’s mental health needs are often complex as well. At Moxie Family Therapy, we offer psychotherapy for women, teens, girls, and families with many different mental health needs. Therefore, counseling for individuals isn’t the only service that we offer in our Orange County Counseling Clinic or via Online Counseling. Other mental health services Moxie Family Therapy provides include treatment for loneliness, therapy for trauma (EMDR), marriage counseling and couples therapy, counseling for young adults, counseling for college students, counseling for teens, counseling for women, counseling for children, play therapy, art therapy, and family therapy. While most of our clients are local to Orange County, our online services allow us to help anyone in the state of California. The road you’ve been on is difficult, but we believe you deserve healing. Call to start therapy, and together with your therapist, you’ll start a new journey toward healing.