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Disagreements: Can we agree to disagree?

April 25, 2021

There are disagreements everywhere right now – and it seems that life is full of fractious moments recently. It’s essential to then therefore consider – in the event of a disagreement, what can you do, to help alleviate the situation?

What is it that’s of particular importance in conflict resolution?

Certainly, in most legal disputes, the argument is that we cannot make things ‘personal’.

Though, with the issue of COVID, vaccinations, working arrangements, societal issues and ‘lockdowns’ – it is personal. So, it’s incredibly difficult not to take things personally.

I’ve found emotional intelligence (Dan Goleman’s work) and conflict resolution skills are required presently.

This is especially true if you have previously been impacted by medicalised trauma, coercive control, or societal ostracising. And, unfortunately, as a member of the community, I have experienced all of these things. Ostracising is when someone is prevented from taking part in activities, or avoided completely. This is the concept of ‘ghosting’ on a massive level and could be considered a form of tribal shaming. Blended Insight discusses Dr Martinez’s work of tribal shaming and it being about how our culture or community shames us back into alignment. COVID has allowed tribal shaming and ostracisation to run rampant.

QR coding, removing people from their capacity to connect, disallowing work, travel or freedoms is ‘tribal shaming’ and ‘ostracisation’ reaching a new low.

What can we all do?

Firstly, we need to remember that conflict is inevitable in life. Having your head in the sand, or avoiding conflict, won’t get you through these conflict-ridden times.

Then, take some deep breaths and work out;
1) Does this involve you personally? If no, then it’s best to stay out of the argument and agree to disagree,
2) Are you getting overly involved when it’s not personally your decision to make?,
3) Is this a decision for someone else to make?,
4) Are you just being a ‘nosey Parker’ and taking part in something that does not concern you at all?,
5) Is this a decision that government, or health providers, needs to make on your behalf?

Here are some thoughts and notes about particularly the ‘yes’ answer for questions above.

Be honest with yourself…

If your answer is ‘yes’ to question 1, then consider the following questions;
– How important is it for you to be involved? Have you been severely impacted in the past by a situation like this? Do you have disenfranchised trauma (trauma that is unrecognised and unacknowledged by society), or disenfranchised grief, as a result from this situation?

If your answer is yes to these scenarios, then I’d strongly encourage you to seek counselling, psychotherapy or coaching for some of your past situations, so that you can have a more level head regarding whether or not to become involved in conflict situations.

When answering ‘yes’ to question 2, then ask yourself; “What is it that’s triggering me?”, “Do I need to seek counselling, or coaching?”.

If your answer is ‘yes’ to question 3, then it’s probably best to not advise them on their decision, or tell them what they ‘should do’. You may need counselling or coaching, if you’ve answered yes to this question as well.

If ‘yes’ to question 4, then consider what judgements you have made of ‘the other’ person in this situation. If you are related to this person, you may need to seek couples or family therapy with this person, or consider individual therapy until you’re ready to seek relationship therapy with the other person.

On question 5, if your answer is ‘yes’, then there are some things that are totally out of our control and we probably won’t be able to influence government, health providers, or organisations with their decisions. Consider; what is it that you can control? What kind of community groups could you join – to find people who are in agreement with you? How could you find people that may be able to support you in your decision? Consider seeking support with either advocates, therapists, community groups, peers or colleagues if you’ve answered yes to this question.

Ultimately, life is not black and white, right and wrong. It’s the shades of grey and colour in our lives that makes life richer and more meaningful. If you are very definite with your decisions, you may be closing yourself off to other possibilities and options in your life. When you have such a ‘definite’ answer, you may have a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is being open to possibilities, rather than just ‘yes’, or ‘no’, ‘right’, or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This, in therapy, is called black and white thinking – and if you’re so definite, you may need counselling to figure out your way forward that is going to work for you.

Importantly, we need to make decisions for and by ourselves, and not for anyone else at all, no matter what someone else tells us we ‘should do’. In my previous blog post, I discussed the importance of not telling people what they ‘should do’. In my original training, telling people what they ‘should do’ we were advised was like ‘shitting on someone’.

If you have a need to discuss your decisions, or run through your personal circumstance, I have specific ways to work through conflict and have worked with conflicting couples and work scenarios for over 15 years. This process doesn’t matter what I, as your counsellor or coach, believes in at all. I merely act as your mirror and confidante to support you in your decision making that is going to work for you.

I love to hear from you and feel free to reach out if you need support on anything conflict related.

I wish everyone peace at this time of high stakes for humanity. Keep remembering to go gentle with yourself and that it is okay to change your mind, or change your decision. And, you are different to other people and it’s okay to be different. Difference is what makes the world go around and none of us are exactly the same.


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