I was talking to my daughter about how being stuck at home during the pandemic forced me to face some things about myself and others that I had tried not to acknowledge. I’m not a big avoider, but when it comes to TV and social media, whenever I’m exposed to real conflict, confrontation, or anger, I typically click off. Witnessing people engaged in heated disagreements and the resulting escalating anger, name-calling, and open disrespect makes me very uncomfortable. Conflict and confrontation are emotional triggers. I accepted my avoidance tactics because I understood where they came from. Avoidance and escape are some of my childhood survival mechanisms, and I was OK with that.
I like data. Databases, writing queries to collect data, and informational reporting are fascinating activities for me. I have a degree in Information Management, and it makes sense that I like information in all its forms; information is my thing. So during the time of self-quarantine, to feel safe, it was essential that I had access to accurate, credible, trustworthy information to help keep my family and me safe and healthy.
With news shows and social media, many times, “information“ is really an individual’s perspective or opinion. And when others don’t share that point of view, nasty disagreements can result.
I’m all for having disagreements. There’s nothing wrong with holding a different view or disagreeing with someone. I think sharing and discussing differing viewpoints is healthy and necessary for all of us to learn and grow. But these differences in opinion and perspective can absolutely be voiced in healthy, respectful, and productive ways. My husband and I have differences in opinion, and when that happens, we speak to each other calmly, using respectful tones and demeanor. Often we end up agreeing to disagree. We don’t intentionally hurt each other or try to change the mindset of the other simply because we have differing viewpoints. He’s entitled to his, and I’m entitled to mine. We don’t have to agree on everything. We are individuals.
Differences in perspective can inspire us to question, listen, and learn something new.
What’s not healthy is blatant disrespect, refusing to listen, judging, offering non-constructive criticism and unsolicited advice, adopting a closed mind, shouting, and name-calling. When those things happen on news programs or social media, bye-bye, I’m outa there. I don’t feel a need to be part of that chaos.
You can see how that wouldn’t benefit me in a time of needing and wanting information. I didn’t want only information that aligned with what I already knew or believed; I wanted everything. I wanted to consider other viewpoints and opinions outside of my own and decide for myself which are the most credible or applicable. That meant I had to develop the intestinal fortitude to sit through some of the challenges and emotional triggers I mentioned above.
Practice makes perfect
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that suddenly I’m extremely comfortable witnessing situations that feel threatening. Nope, not at all.
What has changed is my willingness to go out of my comfort zone and stay. At least for a while.
News and social media can absolutely instill fear in some of us more than in others. If you’ve grown up in a scary, threatening, or traumatic home environment as I did, you know what I’m talking about. I purposefully sought out and identified some of my emotional triggers a while ago and intentionally worked to alleviate them. I recognized that viewing inflammatory news and social media content was another opportunity for me to de-sensitize and alleviate that trigger.
Differences in points of view can inspire us to question, listen, and learn something new.
Having the opportunity to see issues from another’s point of view, and to learn something new, became more important to me than staying in my comfort zone. So I began sitting through the chaos and feeling the triggers, forcing myself to remember that I’m in my home, that I’m an adult, and that I’m safe. Slowly, I began hearing and learning things I wouldn’t have otherwise. My tolerance for witnessing heated differences of opinion eventually increased. Angry arguments between others began to feel less threatening. That, in itself, broadened my perspective. I found myself more willing to sit through what used to feel intimidating or scary.
Real life doesn’t happen in a bubble. Sitting through these uncomfortable moments has helped me understand that I’m stronger and more resilient than I realized.
Have you overcome a personal struggle?
What have the pandemic and the isolation and quarantining taught you about yourself? What have you learned? If you want to share your experience, go to DianeMetcalf.com/story and tell me about it!
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About the Author
As a result of growing up in a dysfunctional home, and with the help of professional therapists and continued personal growth, Diane Metcalf developed strong coping and healing strategies. She happily shares those with those who want to learn and grow in their own recovery journies.
Diane is an experienced advocate, speaker, and writer on narcissism, family dysfunction, and abuse. She draws from her personal childhood experiences, as well as her work in human service fields like domestic violence and partner abuse. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Science in Information Technology.
Her transformational books about healing and moving forward include the highly praised “Lemon Moms” series. This emotionally supportive collection explains narcissistic traits and teaches how to reconcile past hurts to begin self-nurturing, healing, and moving forward.
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