How To Survive The Holidays With Your Politically Divided Family

A friend of mine, Zoe, called last night, devastated. Her son and daughter-in-law had just left, and she didn’t know if she’d ever speak to them again because of the disagreement in politics.

The conflict at dinner over whose party is the “right” party resulted in the slamming of doors followed by the slamming of brakes.

I remember, years ago, when I attended a self-improvement workshop and the teacher held a cup up in front of us. He kept asking what we saw written on the cup. To us, there was nothing — just a plain, ceramic mug. He kept on insisting that there was a phrase written on it in bright red letters.

It seemed crazy, as none of us saw what he saw. Finally, he turned the side of the cup facing him toward us.

“Your opinion is not my reality,” it read.

At that moment, something in my mind clicked. Each of us has a right to think our own thoughts and form our own views, and those views become the lens of perception through which we experience life.

So then why, when we see things differently, do we get nasty with the people closest to us?

Our right to our own opinion is key.

Could it be that the real fight is not over politics, but over our right to have an opinion and politics is just a symptom of deep and unresolved childhood issues? Maybe as a child grown-ups rarely listened or took you seriously. You were told to keep quiet or you would face the consequences.

This type of authoritarian parenting is very disempowering, and in time, leads to a feeling of unworthiness.

Years later, as adults, this inner-insecurity you’ve harbored for years can suddenly erupt, and in your arguing with one another, what you’re actually screaming is: “Listen to me! I’m worthy and important, and my opinion matters!”

We seek validation and self-worth through boasting our opinions. No matter what the subject, you’re justifying your painful need to be right or feel validated and worthy.

But what if you don’t need to do that? What if worthiness is your birthright, your innate state, constant and unconditional?

Give yourself unconditional love.

I believe that you really can give yourself the approval you may have been denied as a child and that in your heart, you can feel the harmonious resonance with this truth.

Judgment and defense.

Empower yourself before getting into heated family political debates this holiday season.
So, here is what I realized and would like to recommend before you gather around empower yourself with these thoughts.

“I don’t have to agree with my family and friends in order to feel worthy and validated: I already am.”

“I’m allowed and permitted to express my views and preferences without the need for people’s approval: As an adult, I approve of myself.”

“It’s OK to have different political views in a family, and to exchange opinions without agreeing with one another: We all have the freedom and right to choose what we believe.”

“It’s OK not to discuss ‘hot’ topics. Or I can leave the room and do something else. As an adult, I am in control and have options; I am never stuck in an unwanted situation.”

Remember what’s truly important to you this holiday season.

So often, we lose sight of what is fundamentally important to us — our family and close friends.

Besides, how can you demonstrate tolerance in the world without practicing tolerance in your own family?

If you want to resolve the conflicts in the world you’re quarreling so passionately about, you’ve got to start with creating peace in your own hearts and lives, and practicing respect and acceptance for the people closest to us.

This does not mean that if someone is attacking you, you have to put up with it. Politics and morals are two entirely different arguments.

As Mother Theresa said: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” And this holiday season, like no other, is the perfect time to practice the love which is us.

Originally Published on YourTango

Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash


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