In preparing today’s Mental Health Moment, I drew from the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” (available here in a clip from the 1937 film Shall We Dance, performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers). While being cautious to not be too tongue in cheek, lyrics from this song can guide us in navigating relationships through differences in views and values, whether about current events, politics, beliefs, or values. See if these can apply to you and your relationships:
It looks as if we two will never be one, something must be done. When discussing current events or anything that may lead to different views, a first step is to notice the difference in opinions during the discussion. Naming the potential or current strain can go a long way in working towards recognizing and reducing differences. In some instances, a wise course of action is to avoid continued discussion and change topics.
But oh! If we call the whole thing off, then we must part. Just because two people have different views does not necessarily mean the relationship must end. In a season of so much uncertainty, strain, and differing views/research, it is understandable for people to come to different conclusions based on regional, cultural, political, familial, or socioeconomic contexts. When you note a differing opinion, consider taking time to learn the other viewpoint. Or you might take a break from someone's social media feed if the content is too heated.
And oh! If we ever part, then that might break my heart! Having different views can be painful. When emotions run high, remember that the feeling of the moment isn’t forever. Emotions are information, but they aren’t facts about the relationship. With self-care, support from those you care about, and time, relationships can be mended.
For we know we need each other, so we better call the calling-off off. While we are asked to social distance, supporting each other can come in a variety of ways. Rather than ending a relationship when differences arise, sometimes calling off the conflict and remembering the relationship's original values can help. Exercising patience, compassion, and kindness can go a long way during so much uncertainty.
When values arise and they come across as different, take time to notice what is happening for you emotionally. Sometimes, taking space, agreeing to disagree, and taking a break can be the most amenable solutions in difficult times.
Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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