Why is it that we might be able to debate and have disagreements at work but panic and shut down or become defensive with loved ones? In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explain why we find disagreements and differences with loved ones difficult and share some tips for getting grounded and breaking the habit.

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5 key topics in this episode

  • When we find real or potential discord difficult in certain contexts with certain people, on some level, we regard the conversations with, for instance, family, friends or romantic partners as more threatening. We associate these situations with being unsafe or that we will be judged. Or we fear that what we have to say will be judged and then we will feel “wrong” as a person. It’s as if someone disagreeing with us or being different is a wholesale rejection of us. 
  • We use the things we value about ourselves or in life as shorthand for what type of person we are. When we derive identity from our perspective to the point where we feel indistinguishable from it, we will see even the slightest whiff of discord as rejection. 
  • Humans are wired to seek and protect our status. We don’t realise how societal conditioning also means that we perceive people with different values from ours to be wrong. It’s an underlying belief and association that different = wrong = threatening. 
  • In, for instance, a work situation, because it’s our job to, for example, speak up or debate, and we don’t necessarily have an emotional investment in these relationships, we say what we need to say. It might not feel threatening like it does with intimate relationships. That, and we’re also not necessarily talking about the same things as we might within our intimate relationships.
  • If we imagine potential disagreements and differences on a scale of zero to five, with zero being nothing and five being the most and call for us to step up or speak up, not everything is a level five. It’s not. We need to respond accordingly, otherwise we will keep triggering our stress response to unsustainable and unhealthy levels.

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