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When the news is triggering, try compassion.

Many hot-button decisions are happening in the US today that may trigger people in different ways. People are reacting to the January 6 hearings. Then there are issues that are coming down from the Supreme Court.

Beyond the decision itself, getting caught in a spiral of “what-ifs” can also exacerbate anxiety. Some are now thinking about the implications for women, for families, and potentially for contraception, gay marriage, or interracial marriage. Roe v. Wade was based on the 13th amendment, which is also the basis to support those other pieces of legislation.

I’ve heard from members of our team who were very distressed by the decision from the Supreme Court about Roe v. Wade. And I’ve heard from some folks who were in support.


(psst…no time to read? Watch on video instead)

It reminded me that people can have a variety of reactions for a myriad of reasons. Not everyone thinks the same thing.

And this can be tough. I’m hearing how conversations have grown more contentious over the last few years–at work, within teams, in houses of worship, in families, and beyond–with our political climate, COVID, and now with the Supreme Court rulings.

Whether the trigger is the news itself or subsequent conversations, either can throw us into a reactive state, a fight or flight (or freeze) mode. “The data is very clear,” one may say, and start reciting it to affirm the correctness of their position.

Guess what? The best way to get someone to disagree with you is to give them “the facts” about “your side.”

There’s research to support that the more you give people data, the more likely they are to sit back and say, “Listen, let me tell you why that’s wrong. Here’s why that’s biased.” (See Why People Ignore Facts).

We are most compassionate when we can allow the other to be other.

We don’t always know what goes into someone’s opinion or why they believe what they do. However, if our opinion gets to be valid for us, let’s assume that the other person gets to have a valid opinion as well.

It doesn’t mean you will change another person’s mind or vice versa. But you can at least re-establish that you are both humans. Coming from a place of compassion, of really trying to listen and understand, is what seems to invite people into a different kind of conversation.


p.s. In the past, I had been asked about the connection between consuming news media, and if that can cause vicarious trauma. (Studies show, yes.) June was PTSD Awareness Month. Read more about that here.


This article also appears on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/when-news-triggering-margo-jacquot/?published=t


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