Psychotherapist explains how to heal relationships that were damaged by the election

Psychotherapists say there are ways to heal relationships that were damaged by the election.

Pittsburgh, PA (KDKA) -- Once the dust settles from the 2020 election, there will be a lot of talk about “healing the nation.”

But what about healing your own relationships that may have been damaged by a tumultuous election?

Personal damage from this election is very real and a lot of it stems from posts and threads on social where people have let it fly.

Those who help us stay on an even keel mentally like psychotherapist James Shamlin, owner of Cranberry Psychological Services in Pennsylvania, have their hands full because of the election.

“We are seeing a greater level of anxiety, angst, and animosity, and a lot of stress and strain in the relationships in our lives right now over the political climate,” Shamlin said.

Now, is it the battle for the White House that has prompted these feelings, or is it the reaction from family members and those close to us?

“You know, I really sense it’s a little bit of both,” he said. “The rhetoric is up, you know, it feels like the stakes are very high on all ends. People are looking at every bit of each party’s agenda as if it’s very not only high stakes, but how that’s going to affect their lives.”

Despite popular belief, Shamlin does believe there is value in telling your significant other to calm down.

“Absolutely, sometimes it’s easier said than done,” he said. “I think that’s where we have the opportunity as individuals to look at ourselves in our relationships and say, ‘you know, how am I coming across?”

Shamlin says it’s important to figure out if you are judging or being judgmental, can you agree to disagree, or has the difference of opinion permanently changed how you see the other person.

With that in mind, how do you begin mending fences without starting another argument or hurting feelings?

Well, it all comes down to how important the relationship is.

Perhaps you’ve blocked the person on social media or stopped talking to them, but if it’s someone you really don’t want to lose touch with, Shamlin says the conversation starts in the mirror.

“I think it all starts with ourselves, asking ourselves, am I truly ready?” Shamlin poses. “You know, what are my triggers or buttons that could be pushed when it comes to that other person bringing up, you know, something about the election or where they stand politically again.”

Then the next steps can be taken, Shamlin explains.

“Again, you feel like I’m ready to re-engage and take that first step,” he said. “If I am, one of the things I want to do is really remind myself of what’s made this person an important part of my life.”

Basically, let the person know that you care enough to want to do something about it.

“It can be really the first step in healing that relationship again and letting them know that I want us to get back to where we once were,” he said.

Now, what about when the shoe is on the other foot? Say someone that made you mad during the whole process reaches out but you want nothing to do with them?

“That’s okay,” Shamlin said. “I think there are ways that we can tell them in a sensitive, understanding, and empathetic way.”

Shamlin cautions to think twice before burning a bridge. He says to leave the door open to revisit the relationship later and just let them know that the feelings are too raw and maybe try again later.

If you do decide to mend fences, he says establish ground rules about topics that are off-limits.

Lastly, he says don’t be afraid to agree to disagree and be careful on social media.

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