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Navigating Difficult Conversations


Happy Friday! If you aren’t feeling that happy today, I understand. My heart has truly been grieved by the suffering in this world, especially for the mothers, fathers, and children who are suffering. Images flood our social feeds and news reports every day. I spent considerable time thinking and praying about what is happening in Israel and Gaza and also how it is affecting us as Americans, creating more division. This is not a political newsletter. It is one to help improve your overall wellness and mental health, and for that reason I do want to say a few things. As humans, we are never going to agree on everything. We have had different experiences that shape the lens through which we see and understand things. We have gone through different traumas that have resulted in strong emotional responses that are triggered by different events. We also were created with different personalities, which impact how we respond to each other. In the situation we are looking at, I have seen all of this at play. What I am asking is that we stop labeling people who don’t share the same perspectives. Human emotion is far more nuanced than that. We are capable of feeling many different things at once, especially opposing emotions. That is the dialectic. I have seen a lot of hateful labeling and judgment on both sides. Accusations of “if you don’t support x, then you are y.” This type of rhetoric is only increasing suffering in the world, not alleviating it.


Can we at least approach other humans with curiosity and empathy? Can we try to understand why a person might feel a certain way and accept that they believe they have a good reason for that without passing judgment. We can still hold fast to our own beliefs and continue to advocate for them, instead of making adversaries out of people who are not in the process. These are not mutually exclusive processes. If we are working towards peace and healing, it’s a good idea to start in our own environments where we have the greatest impact.


So what can you do? As I said on IG this week, I pray for all suffering on both sides. I pray for a peaceful resolution. You can support organizations that are doing meaningful work. Call your senators to advocate for what you believe in. But just as important, talk to people whom this impacts the most and make time for conversations to understand each other. I have had many conversations with people of varying perspectives this past week, and it has helped to broaden my understanding. I may not agree with each one, but I certainly have more empathy for others who think differently than I do. Can we show compassion to those who are hurting here in our own circles? Compassion is empathy plus action. We have MRI evidence that our brain looks very similar to that of a person in love when engaged in an act of compassion. Even a text or call to someone who you know is hurting, asking "How are you today? Is there anything I can do for you?" or "I'm thinking of you," can make a difference. Please take care of yourself. This is an incredibly emotional and devastating situation. Please set some boundaries on how much media you are taking in and how often. There is a difference in gaining knowledge vs repeatedly inundating your minds with disturbing content. I posted a video on Instagram on a helpful breathing technique. I have found myself doing it often. Please use it when you need it; no one will even know you are calming your nervous system. Lastly, speaking of setting boundaries, I spoke on them at the TODAY Show yesterday. Catch my segment here.

 

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