Reality Check: Adapting, Changing, and Getting Along

Change. Does it seem to you that we’ve been experiencing constant change? Both the viral disease and responses to the threat of that disease have brought changes that affect millions of people.
Into this ever-changing environment now comes what? More change, of course. At the moment, the direction of change is toward loosening restrictions and enabling more freedom of choice.
Some people are happy about that direction; others are apprehensive. Therefore, the opportunities for conflict that we’ve had over recent years are not likely come to an end. How can people have such differing views of a situation?
People get information from different sources and are influenced by different people. Dr. William Glasser says that all we can give to another person is information; however, the information that you receive may be very different from the information that I receive. That alone would lead us to draw different conclusions about what is right, safe, and reasonable.
An added complication is that we see reality through our individual filters. Even if you and I are exposed to the same information, we could still come away with quite different interpretations.
I’m sure you’re too young to remember this, but a popular phrase from the ‘60s was “Never trust anyone over 30.” Even those many decades ago, some people trusted authority. Plenty of others didn’t. That’s not new.
Currently, some people trust that authorities are looking out for all of us. Others don’t have that trust. Show the same information to those two groups; do you think they will draw different conclusions? It’s possible, isn’t it?
A final point concerns different levels of basic needs. One person may have a high need for safety that far outweighs their need for freedom. For another, freedom is paramount and safety a minor consideration.
Given all these differences, it’s no wonder that people hold different, sometimes passionate, beliefs about what’s “right.”
Discussion of different opinions can be helpful in the appropriate setting. Robust discussions prevent groupthink. When people are free to air concerns and opinions, to talk through them with goodwill, there is a chance for truth to ultimately emerge.
However, when large numbers of people become sensitized, even believing that what one wears—or doesn’t wear—is a political statement, then opportunities for non-constructive conflict increase.
What, if anything, can we do to lessen those conflicts when more change is afoot?
It bears remembering that we do not know what is going on in another person’s life. We don’t know their fears, hopes, constraints, health, skills, and so on.
Dr. Bob Wubbolding, a well-known author in the Choice Theory community, wrote a short document about dealing with the virus. Titled, “How to Deal with Isolation and Re-Entry; Practical Ideas,” he focused on family relationships. His ideas can apply to any relationship.
He suggests that we reduce three toxic behaviours: A, B, C. That is, reduce “Arguing” with each other, “Blaming” each other, and “Criticizing” each other. Consider what you are about to say. Ask yourself, “Will this help relationships or damage them?”
A robust discussion doesn’t have to be an argument. If we keep the help/damage question in mind as we navigate change, we may be able to communicate more effectively.
You can find Dr. Bob’s article here if you’d like to read it yourself.

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