Transition of Power: How to Get Through It with Friends and Family
By Sara Butler
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all political on you here. This isn’t an opinion piece about who is right, who is wrong, or where this country is headed. I’ll be honest, I have no red, white or blue clue where the political tide is going to take us, only that a golden-haired, tweet-happy president is going to take us there. But that’s not really what concerns me right now. Our concern should be how to avoid getting so swept up in the political rhetoric that it causes people to drift away from relationships that are important -- relationships that should transcend political opinions.
What does all this have to do with The Joint Chiropractic? That’s a good question! See, chiropractors don’t merely focus on the health of your spine -- they view you as a whole person. And because your health as a whole is important, your chiropractor wants to make sure your mental health is as optimal as possible so it doesn’t start to impact your physical health. These are tough times, and a lot of people are struggling with political differences and conflict at work, at the gym, at home -- remember Thanksgiving when crazy Aunt Nadine didn’t hesitate to let her opinion be known? My point is that right now, in the transition from one presidential administration to another, it seems differences in political opinions are as varied as ever. Even in my own life I have felt the divide deepen with people who are very important to me, and I won’t lie -- I’m struggling to find a way to breach that divide.
What can we learn from this? Well, I think it’s time to talk about how we can all hone our conflict resolution skills so that these divides, these differences of opinions, don’t keep us from growing our interpersonal relationships and enriching them.
Is Conflict Bad?
Having a difference of opinion with someone close to you or someone at work isn’t really the problem -- it’s a normal and healthy thing in any relationship. You can’t be expected to agree on everything all of the time. I mean, I have a friend who loves the New England Patriots. Do I think she’s nuts? Yes! But, the conflict we have over her deep and abiding love of a specific football-deflating team that cheated during the Super Bowl isn’t the real issue, how we deal with the conflict is.
If you look at it right, a conflict you have with someone in your life can be an opportunity to make your relationship stronger. That’s why conflict resolution skills are so important -- and something everyone could use a refresher in. Navigating conflict isn’t easy, but there are strategies that can make the process easier for everyone.
Tough conversations aren’t easy. But when you have a plan about how to best approach a tough topic, then you’re on your way to resolving conflict in a healthy way. Think about:
- The best time, place, or day to talk about the issue
- Others you may want to include in the discussion
- Strategies to help get your point across so others can understand
- Notes to help keep your thoughts organized
- Should you plant the seeds with a small discussion, and then have a larger discussion later?
- How you can meet the needs of the other person while also meeting your own
Also keep in mind that the goal of any conversation should be to create an understanding of differing viewpoints, not winning the discussion or being right. If it’s done correctly, then everyone can walk away from the conversation as a winner! (Where have we heard that term on the campaign trail?) You should also:
- Focus on the moment, not things that have happened in the past
- Let go of resentment
- Agree to disagree and move forward
- Be willing to use humor to diffuse tension
- Understand when to let something go
- Choose your battles -- not everything needs to be addressed at once
- Forgive, because no conflict is resolved in anger
Is Stress Interfering with Your Conflict Resolution?
One of the biggest ways you can help to resolve conflicts in your life is by first being able to manage the stress you are experiencing. Stress is a part of life we can’t escape, but many people are in such a constant state of stress that they may not even realize how it is impacting their lives. So, work on managing your own stress as a way to help resolve conflict.
How do you know if stress is a problem for you? Well, you may notice:
- Tension or tightness in your muscles
- Conflict absorbing all your attention and time
- You are unaware of things you do, such as grinding teeth
Stress can interfere with conflict resolution by restricting your ability to:
- Hear what someone else is saying
- Read another person’s body language
- Get in touch with your own true feelings
- Understand your own needs
- Communicate your feelings clearly
It might be a good idea to discuss with your chiropractor at The Joint the ways in which you can work to effectively manage stress in your life. Here’s a pro tip for you: Routine chiropractic adjustments have been found to help reduce muscle tension frequently producing a decrease in stress related conditions. This often results in better function, improved joint motion and a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Once you are able to effectively manage conflict, then you can then experience the joy and peacefulness that is accompanied by it. Studies have found that you can continue to tackle adversity in every corner of your life as long as you have moments of real joy to balance it out.
So, no matter how you’re feeling about politics these days, remember that there’s no mountain of conflict too high to overcome. Don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t settle for anything less than the joy you should be living every single day -- because rest assured, there are many things in life to find joy in once you don’t have conflict weighing you down. Just be prepared to have the tough conversations, and do what you must to find peace with it.
Answers aren’t always black and white, nor are they always red and blue.