I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.Thomas Jefferson
Our country has never been so divided in so many areas in modern times. This division has expanded even beyond what we have experienced pre and post election. It is no longer just about which political party is right or wrong for us. There is also infighting within each party itself. These, and other issues, have also arisen beyond the political arena, which have further divided us. This division has gone beyond the media and the office and has now entered our homes. During the holidays there naturally tends to be more stress than other times of the year, thus adding political tension has a real impact on family gatherings and the enjoyment of the holidays.
Volatile Political Views
People have always had varying views on political issues. What seems to currently be different is the intensity in which people are feeling around what is happening in the world and their beliefs surrounding things such as:
- What is considered sexual harassment and what is not?
- What is racial profiling and what is not?
- What is acceptable behavior and what is not?
- What is acceptable, and appropriate, to say to someone, and what is not?
The calm, productive, and sometimes passionate, interactions around these kinds of conversations seem to be something of the past. The old adage, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” seems to have almost disappeared. Many of us who have strong feelings and beliefs seem to have lost our filter and just spew out whatever we think and believe without making space for, or having respect for, the other person’s point of view. This lack of respect and care can become destructive to our family and personal relationships.
Previously people might have been able to have healthy discussions, but now people are so passionate about their views that it has become problematic. Arguing erupts between spouses and partners, brothers and sisters, parents and their adult children, and yes, friends. A hostile division can arise between family members because of conflicting viewpoints, which can affect what were once healthy relationships. People who experience anxiety often suffer by these issues further exacerbating their symptoms, and those who don’t generally experience ongoing anxiety are starting to develop symptoms around this division.
Conflicting opinions abound on issues such as:
- What we need to do about North Korea
- How to address terrorism
- Division around gun control and sale of guns
Here at Nassau Guidance and Counseling, and the therapy world in general, we have seen a significant increase in individuals, couples, and families seeking to help resolve the conflicts and to heal the wounds made by this division, which is wearing away our relationships.
Just Add Holiday Stress
It seems that many of us have less desire to make space for someone else’s view, even during the holiday season. The holidays are often stressful with sometimes unreasonable expectations of our busy schedule and this passionate division in viewpoints may further exacerbate this stress.
For more tips on maintaining happiness during the holiday season, please click on the link below for my complete article.
My wish for you today is that you are able to reconnect with family and friends and focus on the joy of the holiday season.
-Kathleen Dwyer-Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling