Life Coaching

How to mend relationships torn by differing opinions

The recent Philippine election has sparked various emotions and has stirred different points of view, much intensely that it has caused relationship breakdown to some. The social media has been splattered with several hateful comments and invitations to unfriend or block due to differing opinions. It may sound superficial, but it is true. It happened, and I for one, did “unfollow” some of my friends’ accounts during the previous election periods (I followed them again days after by the way).

Differing opinions, however, do not arise during elections only. It can occur anywhere – with a colleague with entirely different work styles, with a family member with opposing beliefs, or with a significant other with contrasting values. Aside from the conflicts that arouse between my friends of various political views, I’d like to talk about this recent argument that I had with a family member. The strategies, however, are pretty much applicable to any breakdowns.

It is always not easy to get someone on our side, especially that all of us have individual preferences. A number of disagreements could have been avoided if only we are open to that fact. In case we have reached that point wherein the relationship has really gotten apart, I believe that there’s always a possibility to mend it – as long as both parties are willing and both parties find the relationship worth saving.

So for the past few days, my heart and my mind (yet again) are in a ferocious debate. My heart wants me to choose time, while my mind pushes me to choose quality. It got me too stressed that I took it out on a family member who had strong opinions about the same matter. Hurtful words were thrown here and there… it felt like these words kept piling up to the brim until all emotions finally overflowed. As much as possible, I do not want to get myself into such situation as it is not good for my mental health (see previous post), but I guess, relationship breakdowns due to differing opinions – whether at work, at home, in social circles or in romance – are indeed inevitable.

If you are in the process of mending and do not know how to start, or just want to stop stressing and hurting yourself out, perhaps these might help:

1. Reflect. Be accountable.

The fact that the breakdown affects us means that we care. I’ve always been told that I’m emotional, but that’s because I care too much for a lot of things and for a lot of people. If you, too, are an empath like I am, I am sure you can agree with me that only if we think about our personal sentiments, it would have been so much easier to just let things go. But we are not built like that. So two things to ask: 1. Does this person I am in conflict with matter? 2. Is s/he worth all the trouble? If the answers are yes, then all of these steps in the mending process should not feel like a burden. If the answers are no, then it’s high time to take care of our mental health, let go and be happy.

1. Does this person I am in conflict with matter?

*Is s/he someone important in my life?

* Will mending/not mending the breakdown affect my day-to-day routine?

2. Is s/he worth all the trouble?

* The person might be someone important, but is s/he worth all my pride, time and effort?

* Will mending/ not mending the breakdown be good for my health and overall wellness in the long run?

2. Communicate.

I firmly believe that a number of conflicts could have been prevented or ended had only we learn how to communicate. Communication, as they say, is a 2-way street and is only effective when there’s feedback.

What is there to talk about? I would say, let’s start with Honesty. All feelings are valid, and there’s no reason to apologize for how we feel or what we believe in. BUT, there is absolutely a need to apologize for the way we ACT. This person was hurt as much as we were, and his feelings are valid as much as ours.

It takes a high level of maturity to understand that our opinions are in no way more dominant than the others’.

Let’s try to hear the other person out. Try to find out his reasons and to not shove our own ideas right away. Ask for feedback and listen. It feels good to be on the same page especially when both parties find out that both are only looking after the same person/ concern/ love for the country, and this can only be achieved with proper communication.

3. Come up with an action plan.

I guess this is the step that we sometimes miss to do which leads to unresolved arguments. After hearing each other out and saying our “thank you’s” and “sorry’s”, the next big question is “so what do we do now?” If Step 2 wasn’t accomplished effectively, then it would be impossible for Step 3 to take place.

After journeying my way to this family member, I asked her what would work for her. I laid out my plans and tried to amend these to somehow match hers. Of course, we cannot please everybody, and sacrifice is needed somewhere in the line, but then again, saying Yes to the questions in Step 1 above makes everything worth it (not settling these questions with our selves can lead to more heartaches and blaming).

Talking it out what needs or wants can be met and not helps mitigate the disappointments and broken hearts. They say “expectation is the root of all heart aches”; therefore, setting expectations, I would say, is a must. Step 3 might be the hardest as it requires logical decision-making, but laying out a timeline (including when a final decision will be made) is still part of an action plan. What’s important is that both parties said ‘Yes’ and agreed like how adults should.

It took me 2 days to complete all these. Some may do it in minutes, some may take years, but any advancements, no matter how small or baby steps they seemed, can still be called progress. The value of mending relationships may differ for each as we have our own priorities, and that is completely okay. Once again, whether we choose to mend or not or how, all depends on how we asses our selves in Step 1.

If after careful deliberation we find that this concerned party is important to our well-being, much more important than all our differing opinions and varying intricacies, then let us find the courage and hard work to mend the relationship. As this one quote goes “Life is short; let’s not complicate things”.

Stay loved and blessed!❤️ 🙏

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