THE PSYCHOLOGY OF POLITICS
Politics is a topic that has traditionally elicited strong feelings among people, with different views and opinions. However, in the current atmosphere of today’s society, the topic of politics appears in some circles to be exceptionally toxic. People view their differences in terms of right and wrong, with no room for common ground. This range of behavior is not unique to politics. It similarly manifests itself in other interpersonal relationships but appears especially acute in today’s politics.
As I have written in past blogs, change is difficult. This is an especially true when new information received is contrary to long held beliefs. The tendency is to resist being open to new ideas and tenaciously holding onto past beliefs. This happens in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Predictably, whether in politics or life in general, people tend to believe in what they are most comfortably with and often disregard anything that is contrary to that belief.
People generally like to believe that they are enlightened and truly understand how their world should function. Their view is that if others believe as they do, the world would be far less stress filled. This belief, if fixated, can result in their making poor choices in ways of viewing human relationships, as well as political figures. Because of their ridged beliefs, there is a propensity to make poor choices that result in poor outcomes. Such choices are justified by faulting others, resulting in continued maladaptive behavior.
It is not that these people are unintelligent. It is just human nature to hold onto beliefs that result in no productive change. However, in the short term, it is much easier to wrap oneself in the folds of like thinkers. However, in the long term, this only reinforces going around in circles and continuously ending up in the same place.
How do people get out of this endless circle of stagnation and limited thinking?
- Recognize specific ways certain types of thinking about other people and their different ideas only reinforces discontentment and lack of fulfillment.
- Be aware that there will always be others who try to influence what others think or do. This is true coming from advertisers, certain other people, institutions or politicians.
- Be true to yourself and not define yourself automatically by what others say and believe. Think for yourself.
- Be alert to the differences between fact and opinion. The world is full of people who will say what they think others want to hear.
- Recognize and avoid what is negative and gravitate toward things that directly help improve the quality of your life.
- Look to people who take responsibility for their mistakes and don’t point to others and play the “blame game”.
- View others as merely different and avoid getting into a right/wrong mentality.
- Gravitate toward positive people and avoid those who make disparaging remarks about others.
- Know what your core values are and avoid being influenced to compromised what they are.
- Be aware of your moral and ethical compass and don’t be swayed to compromise them.
Following these principles can help provide the guidelines in making good decisions in life, in relationships and in politics.
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