Mind, Body, and Soul is sponsored content.

A mental health expert is sharing ways to keep your cool when talking about divisive topics, especially with people you care about. 

"If two people agree all of the time, then at least one person is not being themselves. We ought to have our own thoughts, feelings, opinions and perspectives about life. We are all different and it would be very boring if we were all the same," says Terry Warburton, Clinical Director with Recovery of Hope Counselling in Winnipeg. 

Coming into a conversation knowing that the person disagrees with you on something is a start, according to Warburton. 

"It does seem though, that conflict is increasing among friends, families and communities on issues that have arisen because of COVID-19. There are many things that people have different opinions on, including mask wearing, vaccinations, vaccination passports and many other things."

Heading into the fourth wave of the pandemic, many people are feeling the strain on their relationships when it comes to opinions on these topics. 

"How can we move ahead knowing that we might never agree with someone that we care about on a topic that we passionately believe in - and they also passionately believe in? Is it possible to value and preserve the relationship over the topic we disagree on? I believe that is possible, but not easy."

The idea in speaking to someone with a different view is to come to the conversation in hopes of respecting the other persons' dignity while valuing your own integrity.

"It is critical to remember that it starts with me, you, taking a look at ourselves. As hard as it is, we have to each remember that we are in charge of ourselves. How we act, what we say, how we say it, is never someone else’s fault," she says. 

Part of the process of being able to disagree well, especially with family members, is walking in maturity.

"No matter how much we’re triggered or stirred up by what someone else says or does, or how wrong and insensitive it seems, we must own our own reactions. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when we feel so very justified in our anger. We are absolutely entitled to our feelings but we must own them, feel them, but not blame others for them."

According to Warburton, in the heat of the moment, this may mean taking a breather, or stepping outside for a minute or two so the person can gain composure. 

"We can be very easily triggered, and we can easily lose track of that self within us that is full of good values and good intentions. When I lose track of myself on a GPS, I have to hit “re-centre” to see where I am in the midst of everything. When triggered and in conflict, we need to continually hit our recentre button to get back to ourselves, where we are in charge of our choices and words, rather than our emotions and impulses leading the way."