How to Manage Differences in Political Views During Election Season

October 15, 2020

With the 2020 presidential election just three weeks away, political tensions and divisiveness is at an all time high. Part of election season that can be especially stressful is finding ways to manage differences in political views with people around us. Sometimes the people in our closest relationships can disagree with us politically. This might include someone in our circle of friends or even an immediate family member. Difference of opinion can easily bring up hostility and become anxiety-inducing. It’s not good for our mental wellbeing to constantly be arguing with the people around us about politics because it has the potential to make us feel angry, hurt and upset. 

Everyone is different when it comes to politics. Some people embrace political differences in their closest relationships, while others don’t care. For some, having similar views as the people closest to them is non-negotiable. When it comes to talking about politics, some people may choose “strategic topic avoidance,” while others feel the need to address their beliefs. Whatever your personal feelings towards politics are, it’s most important that you are still taking care of yourself when political views clash.

Here are our five tips to manage differences in political views during election season, to take care of your mental health:

Assume the Best in Everyone

Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences that shape their political beliefs. Despite differences in policy issues, it helps to recognize that most people have good intentions. Having compassion for others, even those we don’t agree with, is something that we can all practice more.

Be Curious Instead of Furious

Anger is not the most productive way to express our frustrations about someone having different political opinions than us. Recognize that someone’s views aren’t likely to change from you expressing a negative reaction. Trying to change someone’s mind almost never ends well. Instead, if you’re going to have a discussion with someone who has a different viewpoint, try to hear them out and listen to their point of view. You can still express your beliefs and stand by them as well. The difference is having tolerance and trying to learn from differences, instead of shutting someone down entirely.

Recognize the Deeper Values You Share

Try to recognize the deeper values that you share with someone, like compassion, basic humanity and equality. Finding areas in which you both can agree can help strengthen your relationship, instead of stirring up constant disagreement. It’s also okay to realize your “deal breakers” for having someone in your life. If this person is constantly focused on hate and negativity, it’s more than okay (especially for your mental health) to loosen that tie and let them go.

Converse Respectfully

You likely want to feel seen, heard and respected. It’s only fair to extend the same courtesy to others as well. If you decide that you do want to discuss politics with someone close to you who has different beliefs, be sure to demonstrate respect and kindness. Keep in mind that you can still have love for a family member or friend even if you disagree with them.

Empower Yourself

When you feel discouraged or anxious from political tensions with others, focus on empowering yourself. Connect with friends, family and community that share the same values as you. When you’re feeling powerless due to political anxiety, you can take agency by standing up for what you believe in and contributing to causes you care about. Appreciate your ability to cope through difficult times and how you are resilient despite the divided political climate.

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