In these polarized times, it is impossible not to be affected by the conflicts we see/hear/observe around us. As a result, relationships reflect the turmoil and bring up values and beliefs we may not have been aware of.
Even when you have known another person for years, there is always some little corner, some quirk that never emerged. This is true for all of us because our life experiences mold us in concert with our unique genes. If you have never had to swim, how would you know what it would feel like? Situations bring up fears and anxiety, and other feelings we would need to process and understand in the specific context.
So it is that we now confront those hidden corners of values and beliefs regarding politics, democracy, and autocracy. You may be one of those who had clarity in how you perceived these subjects. Then too, you may find that your partner, your family, or friends had other or not so obvious perspectives. The media, in whatever way you are exposed, bring it to us up close and personal. The human personality has a tendency to seek consistency and reacts negatively to disagreement. Those “likes” on social media are based on this trait. So, it is a fast jump to expecting our loved ones to be in agreement with us if they cared about us.
Not that there aren’t those who seem to thrive on conflict and aggravation. It is as if they relish throwing a grenade into the crowd and watch the chaos with glee. That is not a healthy way to deal with any relationship. It may be that such individuals seek the glory of resolving the mess in the end and emerging as a “savior.” Nonetheless, most of us appreciate when there is even a loose sense of similarity in values and beliefs with those close to us.
Ironically, we grow when our own systems are challenged by opposing views. The key is not to see others as the “enemy” but to welcome the intellectual and emotional work as needed for personal development. Tap into your curious mind! Look to see how this will help in your maturity and open-mindedness. I guarantee that any “Aha!” moment will be joyful.
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.
Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577