Q: How do I deal with differing opinions related to COVID-19?
Updated: May 21, 2020
How to cope with having differing opinions than your family, friends, or loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic.
Something I find most interesting about our current situation is that many of same issues we faced before the pandemic have arisen again, and in some cases, heightened. At first, I must admit, I was deluded to think that we would all join in harmony under this one "common enemy." I don’t want to seem too skeptical that this may still be underway—I do believe a shift will take place at some point. But much like all transformations, it does not come without adversity and even conflict. And right now, we are still in the thick of it.
Our nation feels even more divided than ever. And just as before, people often find comfort in having opinions. Having beliefs can provide someone with answers and a sense of agency, especially in a time of uncertainty and discomfort. I am not judging this coping strategy, simply reporting that this exists. However, issues can arise when opinions alienate others and estrange relationships. Even in times when we crave connection most, prolonged stress can often lead to conflict.
If you feel like your beliefs and opinions don’t align with your friends, family, or partner, this can be extremely stressful. The goal is to not personalize differing opinions or let them invalidate your own. Opinions should not be attached too strongly to your identity as a person. At our core, we all want similar things: safety, security and love. That is why it is so important to also not judge others for their beliefs and even actions (difficult, I know). Judgement will do nothing to change others' opinions and will only fuel your own ego, causing more internal turmoil, and ultimately, suffering.
Finding a healthy attachment with my opinions is something I strive to do. My goal is for my opinions to be somewhat fluid rather than fixed; open to change with incoming information. The most brilliant people I know are the ones that are willing to say “I don’t know." These people continue to search for the truth, without conjuring up an answer to appease the situation.
As I’ve discussed before, we all want answers right now. The mind will fill in blanks when facing uncertainty. Try to not let it. Instead, start to notice what makes you uncomfortable about not knowing or being right. Stay present with it, breathe through it, and see what that can teach you.
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