Disagreeing About Politics in a Healthier Way
In the last year, people have become more and more passionate about their political beliefs and involvement. The 2020 election saw a historic turnout, with many young people voting for the first time. It can be exciting to feel like you're making a difference and living according to your beliefs. But what happens when someone in your life has very different beliefs from you? Can you relate to this message we received recently about how to deal with anger about politics?
"I've been best friends with Melanie since the third grade. This past election, we each voted for different people, and I’ve been feeling angry and disappointed in her. It seems like the person she voted for doesn't care about people at all. She's started saying things I think are mean about people and laughing at jokes she never laughed at before. It's gotten to where I can't stand talking to someone, I used to look forward to seeing. How do I stop hating people with different political beliefs?"
It's natural to feel disappointed, and even angry, when people make choices that upset us. But if you feel yourself moving toward hate, despising people intensely, and wanting bad things to happen to them, it's time to change your mindset. Here are some helpful tips to consider when struggling with hatred over differences with others.
Be Honest About How You Feel
It's easy to say you hate someone. "Hate" has come to be used as a common word for expressing strong anger or dislike for someone. But shat actually makes hate different? According to Psychology Today:
"You hate someone because of what they are, and you are angry at someone because of what they did. . . You get angry when you want an apology, when you want someone to change their behavior, etc. With hate, you cannot be indifferent towards the person. You are more engaged because you want to get rid of them—whether socially, mentally, or physically."
Think about how the person with different political beliefs makes you feel. Do you want to make things right, have you given up, or do you want to cut them out of your life?
Being honest about whether or not you really hate them doesn't make you a bad person or a lost cause. In fact, being honest about difficult feelings is one of the only ways we can start controlling anger and hatred and heal more fully from the damage they do.
Remember How Hate Hurts You
Hate is an active emotion. We’ve heard from many people that say they feel hate is having an effect on their mind and body. If you're struggling with hating people because of their politics, it's probably had a negative impact on you. Maybe you've noticed:
- Constant Stress or Feeling Frazzled
- Never Feeling Like You've Expressed Your Feelings About Them Enough
- Inability to Enjoy Your Life or Other People
It's important to deal with hate as soon as you recognize it taking root. If not, it will start to feel like it's taking over your life.
Don't Bottle Up Negative Feelings
What to do in this situation depends on what you've tried up to this point. Does the person you disagree with know how you feel? If you feel like you're bottling it up inside, it might be worth trying to have a conversation. You might try saying something like,
- "It seems like you've changed a lot since shortly before the election. Is everything okay?"
- "Every time we talk about politics or current events, we end up arguing. It makes me sad. Can we talk about it?"
If you don't feel safe having this conversation, there's no pressure to do it before you're ready. But openness is one of the most important anger management techniques we can practice. It's still important to let someone you trust know how you feel, and to get those feelings off your chest, so they're not weighing as heavily on you.
When having this conversation it is important that you do your part to really listen to them. Learn why they believe what they believe without arguing back. Then ask if they would extend you enough courtesy to listen to you in return.
Agree to Disagree
If the person you disagree with is an important part of your life, and if your relationship is essentially healthy aside from your political views, consider refraining from talking about politics. In other words, agree to disagree. Choose not to engage in political conversations if they are stirring up hateful feelings. Some people are able to have heated disagreements, but at the end of the day have enough respect for each other that it doesn’t cause hate. But if you are walking away from these conversations bitterly, that’s a sign to stop the conversation.
Especially if this person is a spouse or parent or another close family member. These relationships are too important to allow hate to creep in. While you may be unable to reconcile yourself with what they believe politically, find common ground in other areas of life that will hold you together. There is more to life than politics.
Get Comfortable with Distance
Sometimes, if the relationship isn’t with someone in your inner circle, and after you've tried talking through it with them, and even worked on your feelings and trying not to hate others, relationships with people with polar opposite political beliefs are tense and strenuous. That doesn't mean you've messed up. Sometimes, people and relationships need time and space to figure things out.
If you feel like you've done your best to change your mindset or make things better with your friend, you can still love them from afar. Getting comfortable with distance can help you give one another time and space. Depending on your relationship, this might be something as simple as not seeking out their social media posts or texting and calling a little less often. If the relationship or their actions have caused you significant pain, you don't have to feel guilt or shame about stepping back from the friendship or relationship.
Get to the Root of the Problem
If you feel like you're struggling with hating someone, I'm glad you're looking for help and support working through that. Reading articles and ebooks, and listening to podcasts, about emotional struggles can really help you get to the root of the problem:
- Am I feeling lonely without someone who used to be in my life all the time?
- Do I feel like no one understands me?
- Am I angry or disappointed because someone I've known for a long time seems to have given up on our common beliefs?
Whatever it is you're feeling, remember that no one person can fill all your needs emotionally. People are imperfect, and they will let us down from time to time. But God is always there for you., I hope you're encouraged to know He loves you unconditionally, and you can talk to him about whatever you're feeling.
No matter how strong, no matter how unpleasant, God can handle it, and He can help you bear those burdens. You may even find that after praying about some of the things you're feeling, your emotions aren't as intense and hard to handle anymore.
You can even take it one step further and pray that God blesses the person you are struggling with. Often when we pray for someone, we feel wronged by, and pause to recognize they too are a child of God doing their best in this messy world, our heart can soften toward them.
But I know this is hard to work through, and sometimes you just need to talk to someone with a bird' eye view of the messy situations in your life. If that's what you need right now, TheHopeLine is here for you.
You can talk to a HopeCoach anytime about how to work through relationship issues and tough political disagreements. We are here for you, and we believe you can get through this.
Feel like the world is hungering for more of God's justice, mercy and love? Here is a list of God's call to action and character for these 3 things that are mentioned throughout the bible.