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How to maintain relationships with people if your countries are at war

How to maintain relationships with people if your countries are at war

Military conflict is an acute stress for both the political system and ordinary people. Even though the vast majority of the population is not directly involved in the hostilities, the mood in society changes radically. One of the main psychological phenomena in a situation of war is the exacerbation of non-acceptance of citizens of an unfriendly state. The situation is exacerbated when close people, relatives or good acquaintances find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. How do you maintain human relations with people who have nominally become “enemies”?

Why does this happen?

It has long been known that in a crisis situation a person can manifest himself in the most unexpected way. War, as an acute crisis, affects the psyche of every inhabitant of a country at war. Often this happens on an unconscious level. Even though the person himself is far from combat operations, his psychological health is under the hail of emotional and mental blows:

  • A sense of uncertainty about the future;
  • Fear for life (your own and those close to you);
  • Constant background alarm;
  • Information intoxication (constant presence in a negative information field);
  • Loss of a sense of stability;
  • The depreciation of what used to feel inviolable.

Our psyche is built in such a way that it tries with all its might to protect us from stress. One way of psychological defense is to shift our attention from our own condition to the search for the guilty party in that condition. In the case of war, it’s easy to find someone to blame. But since it makes no sense for an ordinary person to be angry at high-ranking people in terms of the output, the anger shifts to those with whom he is familiar. It is possible to snap at such people, to give vent to feelings.

Of course, we are all different. Some have a greater reserve of strength, some less. Some people have enough self-awareness to understand why they are angry with someone simply because they are from another country, while others do not. If the two people communicating have the ability to trace the reasons for their feelings, they will find common ground. If one of them has not been able to deal with the negative psychological factors, the relationship begins to break down.

What to do about it?

To begin with, you need to give yourself an answer as to what kind of help you need. Are you someone who is lost in stress and is ready to blame other people for it? Or have you kept your “bright head” and are now trying to talk sense into someone close to you from another country?

If you feel that you are closer to the first camp, then the algorithm will be as follows:

  1. Let your anger out in a healthy way.
    It’s okay to be angry. But it’s not okay to vent your anger on others. Find a way to express your discontent outwardly without harming yourself or others. Go into a clear field and yell. Beat a pillow. Write out on a piece of paper all the words you want to say and tear them up. Do something to lower the boiling point.
  2. Determine what negative emotions are prevalent in you.
    Anger is always the tip of the iceberg. Underneath it are the underlying painful emotions that make you look for guilt. Fear, anxiety, sadness, or a whole complex of feelings. Listen to yourself. If you can’t identify the emotion, analyze bodily sensations. Write them down on a piece of paper and see what emotion it looks like.
  3. Separate emotion from reality.
    Although feelings are related to events that are happening, most of them are about the future. When we worry, we worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Find what part of your worries are about what is going on in your life right now, and cut off the excess. Try to stick to this principle throughout the crisis situation.
  4. Find a resource.
    Negative experiences deplete the body and the psyche. You need to find something to nourish you. Spend more time with your loved ones, get active in your hobbies and favorite activities. Make an appointment with a psychologist or at the gym. Set yourself a new motivating goal and go for it. In short, find something that will give you a positive emotional charge.

If your goal is to maintain a relationship with a person who exudes negativity, then the principles are as follows:

  1. Recognize that not everything is up to you.
    Keep the person’s right to remain where they are, in the face of the strangeness of their position and behavior to you. It is your right to show what words and actions you consider unacceptable to you, to show the consequences for doing so. But the choice is up to the person.
  2. Don’t get into conflict, don’t get caught up in other people’s emotions.
    If in a dialogue you feel that the person is angry at you, it is your right to stop the conversation. The saying “truth is born in a dispute” does not work here. This is where grievances and painful experiences are born.
  3. Do not try to get the person on your side.
    Remember that the person is in a country that is at war with yours. At the same time, he has his own internal war that is different from yours. To find common ground is to hear each other and to find a compromise solution that suits both.
  4. Remember that you personally have not done anything wrong to each other.
    If you want to keep the relationship with the person, you have not directly had a conflict with him or her. For some reason this person is dear to you or at least interesting to you. Separate him from the state in which he resides. Seek to be perceived in the same way. Talk about it.

Bottom line

War is often associated with dehumanization. To remain human in such an acute crisis is a personal victory for everyone. Try to maintain relationships with people who happen to be on the other side of the conflict. But remember the right to their personal choice.

Vsevolod Efimov