Dear Ted: Disagreeing does not have to equal hate

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Dear Ted,

This has been a very long year of animosity in which we have watched and heard political parties slam our country and one another to the point that many people are feeling beat down and exhausted. I have watched people, who used to be friends, no longer be willing to speak to one another. Violent communication and physical violence have broken out due to disagreeing on political issues. I’m not sure what my question is but I’m hoping you may share your insight about what is going on within the psyche of the United States. Thank you, Randi

Dear Randi,

Thank you for your note. I chose to move it up and in front of another letter due to the timing. The campaign and elections are coming to an end. I do believe you are correct. Our media, which should be an avenue for dispensing information in order to make the most intelligent and informed voting decision, has become an ugly competition that feels something like professional wrestling and the trophy is the title of an elected position.

A lot of energy has been spent looking only at what appears negative, with little attention to what is working and improving. When you are inundated by negative information about the state of affairs, nationally and/or locally, your brain starts to see the world and everyone in it as dangerous. The level of irritability, hypersensitivity and high impulsivity, increases when the brain believes it is in trouble and fighting for its life. This can mean that even disagreements can be perceived as dangerous. The danger alert seeps into all parts of your life as one perception. This can cause a domino effect and causes fear and defense to be the protection system that is established.

This is no laughing matter. As tension increases on the election issues, there seems to be more tension in all areas of life — this can include road rage, fights at school, anger at work, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness and helplessness. In order to step out of this fight and flight mode, there needs to be a level of safety re-established. This actually begins with you internally, not externally. Take some time to remember what allows you a feeling of safety and love. This can help balance the feelings of danger, allowing the brain to not only be in the trenches of protection. When there is disruption, such as this election battle, there is a level of chaos that sets in and then there is the chance for conscious reconstruction. This includes being willing to listen to others without an agenda. Perhaps you don’t try to change their mind, but you gather information.

Disagreements can be a true opportunity to gain knowledge. There may not necessarily be a right or a wrong way, just new information about someone else’s world view. As the transition to a new government takes place, maybe each of us can also make a transition from the war of who is right and who is wrong to how do we take all our perceptions and build a better world internally and externally.

Randi, you put me on the spot! I don’t know if I answered your question or comment but this is what you inspired me to think about and write. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct questions to Wiard, founder, at (575) 776-2024 or gwr@newmex.com.

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