There has recently been a lot of political unrest in America.
People driven by passion, justice, and their personal values clash in online and social wars that produce fear and prejudice driven results.
Society, hurt by polarization, seems more fragile.
And yet we will still go on with our daily lives, our everyday duties.
So how can we get our minds back into the right space? How does one maintain their mental health and routines when a lot of factors make the everyday tasks seem irrelevant and meaningless at worst, and boring at best?
How does one deal with the fear that a broken country produces? The anger that violated rights sparks? The distraction that current news rains on us 24/7?
Well? One of the most effective ways is head straight to working out and healing those relationships that may have been hurt or fractured by both political and pandemic stress and disagreement.
But I Don’t Want to Be Friends With People Who Believe In (insert blank here)
I totally understand that you have your own value and I am not telling you to be friends with just everybody. I just don’t want prejudice or misinformation to color your lenses. By actually implementing these healing mindsets and actions on relationships, I hope that maybe you can find some, or even just one, that you can work towards healing.
I hope for these methods to peel back your view of them and show the truth of who they are, a person you can still love and meaningfully talk with.
Let’s dive right in..
Control What You Consume
If a stream is rushing in and flooding you with overwhelm, build a dam.
In other words, if news and debates and updates are overwhelming, often times it can be healthy to control the flow of information that comes your way. Limit and direct that flow.
Limit the amount of news/social media and political discussions you partake in daily/weekly. Stay in the know, but not every minute or hour. This works because of a key principle. What you dwell on, what you think about, what you talk about, what you read and hear about, it changes you.
However, this control of news consumption can only be healthy to an extent! Ignorance is bliss but it’s not always better, excessive ignorance can have a dangerous cost.
Conversate The Right Way
A huge contributor to the stress of this season where COVID-19 + politics takes up all the news, is the fractured relationships that get hurt by all the little words and walls put up. Want to know a communication secret for maintaining respect? View the person you are talking to as you would want them to view you. How would you want them to view your identity, abilities, and character?
Maintain their dignity, assume they are critically thinking and willing to understand. Because any conversation where both people don’t have that is practically useless if not hurtful. Leave out all the accusatory remarks, attacks on identity, and impatient tones. And if you can’t, should you really be talking?
Choose Your Battles
During this past year we’re seeing good and bad sides of people we didn’t know existed. So when shocked by someone’s different (and maybe even wrong in your opinion) views, remember to choose your battles. Remember that the purpose of a battle is to communicate meaning. Only when meaning is communicated are beneficial relationships, mindsets, and actions triggered or strengthened. So if both people aren’t in a mindset to understand and clearly communicate, really evaluate if it’s worth talking at all. And similarly, a conversation could start out great, and then get heated, know when to end it.
Don’t Try to Convert, Try to Communicate
It’s interesting that I’m saying this about politics for once instead of religion, but now it seems like everyone has their own opinions and for others to be right, they’ve got to agree. People can feel when you’re trying to convert them to a certain belief. Instead of trying to get them “on your side” try to just understand their beliefs, not side (notice here, we aren’t thinking in a them vs. us mindset). And try to clearly communicate and help them understand your beliefs.
Even if a full understanding isn’t met, great job for trying! As Brett and Alex Harris say, “all effort—even failed effort—produces muscle.” So good. on. you. communication strength is one of the most important strengths you can develop!
Remember Their Pricelessness
At this point most of us think __(insert group of people or a person here)__ is just crazy. Just unreasonable, not even thinking, he/she/they are simply blind-sided. How do they believe that? How do they not understand?
This quickly turns into an us and them. And it’s at times like these that we are to remember that although we may not like whoever, Jesus died for that person. Yes, the Jesus that we love, the Jesus who gave everything for us. What does that have to do with politics?
It raises the bar for what actions are ok. God isn’t ok with rude remarks or impatient fighting, God died for them and He wants us to love them with our decided actions, even if we don’t like them with our feelings.
Remember the “Exception”
Likely you belong to a group, that goes against the ideas and goals of another group. And although you may be against another group, you’ve likely met a person/had a conversation with a single person from the other side that maybe wasn’t too bad. Maybe even a great one! Well remember that. They seem like the exception because you’ve come close and gotten to know them as the person they are.
Take this a step further and build more of those expectation cases. Get close to people of different beliefs and learn their full stories, all from a secure place of not trying to convert anyone or prove anything.
Abe was truly onto something : )
Come Back to Your Identity
Yes this is a season like no other, but in all seasons and areas of life your purpose remains one and the same: glorify God, love others, find joy. Those are all actually the same thing, you can’t do one without the other. Let that goal, that mindset, guide your every action.
Because before your a Democrat, Republican, or third party,
Before you’re a white or colored person,
Before you’re a believer in vaccines or not,
Before you’re an activist or advocate for this or that,
You’re a Christ follower. So accept that gift and continue to live and love like Him.
I believe you can live like that.
IMPORTANT P.s. At the end of the day, relationships will always be two sided. Constantly grow while not shouldering complete responsibility for how the relationship turns out. And I’d love to see where that brings you. 🙂
When was a time you had a great conversation with someone who thought differently from you? What made it so different? Now let’s replicate that 🙂 Drop your own tips in the comments below!