ASK A GRIEF COACH
Question: How Can I Heal When I’m Surrounded by “Hot Takes”?
Answer: Let’s flip some tables, shall we?
Ask a Grief Coach is an online column to address commonly received questions in private work with my clients. All names are kept anonymous, and the questions are shared with permission. As you read, keep the context of your own story in mind. No answers found here will apply directly to your circumstance because your grief is unique to you. However, the hope is that you will find tools and tips of support, whether you are the griever or the supporter.
In the last few years, I’ve experienced a really big shift in my beliefs. Not that I’m changing my core faith commitments (at least not for now). But the experiences and losses I’ve navigated lead me to feel disconnected from the community I’ve invested in for the majority of my life. I’ve found a few friends in the same arena who are encouraging, helpful, and patient with my questions and reckoning.
But when it comes to the majority of people, I’m a heretic. An outcast asking dangerous, slippery slope questions that create instability in my life and my community. Most people won’t say it to my face because I’ve taken them out of my life (which is another entire grief event of it’s own) but the social media aspect is really challenging.
I’m on social media for work, and can’t really quit. It’s not all bad and I’ve found even more invitational healers online that have helped. I don’t want to completely separate myself from my community, yet so many of them feel permission to insult and degrade my mindset and others like me through combative posts, “hot takes,” and wartime rhetoric that make me out as an enemy for questioning my beliefs. How in the world am I supposed to find healing or even a deeper level of commitment to my faith when it feels like the people I would like to walk beside are trying to make me stumble?
Harmed by Hot Takes
Oh, those sassy hot takes are everywhere nowadays, right? Social media is a double-edged sword of incredible community and incredible proximity to harm. You are aware of this, which is helpful. But it sounds like you are struggling to understand how to push back on the hurtful opinions of others.
For some grand reason I’ll never fully understand, humans believe everyone has the right (and perhaps, obligation) to hear their opinions. This seems truer of the “black and white” mentality — but black and white thinking is a cognitive distortion.
Let me take a moment to define this before going on: This is a way of thinking about your place in the world as right or wrong. It’s a centering method. Anais Nin, an essayist, said, “We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are.”
Meaning, when someone has a black and white, right or wrong perspective on something, they are injecting themselves right into the topic and how it applies to their lives. Hot takes aren’t about the people they address, and that’s the biggest part of the problem.
When someone believes they have influence and a right to direct the masses, they often make these blanket “hot take” style statements that do more harm than good. So few people are invested in their opinion as anything more than a dose of outrage they can use to bolster their own unkind attitudes.
So back to your question: How can you heal when these seem to be all around you? By calling them out as opinion. We are a people obsessed with ourselves and our ideas as facts. But the truth is, we’re mostly subjective humans, roaming with our own smudged lenses into arenas we were never meant to occupy or invited to attend. See also: Removing the log from our own eyes before worrying about a splinter in someone else’s.
You’re not obligated to participate in any discussions you don’t invite, and the confrontation method may result in some heated arguments. But I will say this about faith communities — we love a good testimony. We take the story of someone who is moved by their experience of a higher power and we celebrate alongside them. If nothing else, you have every right to remind the “hot take” author of your testimony and value as a human being, while also reminding them of their obligation to treat others and their hearts with dignity.
This table flipping matters. It’s complicated, difficult, and goes over as well as sugar in a gas tank. But without the pushback, the cycle of harmful hot takes continues and the author thinks they’re making positive change in the world around them.
But the hot take denies dignity to anyone who disagrees. So with that in mind, decide carefully who is worth your time for the conversation and who is more healthfully handed with the mute or block button. There’s no need to justify the decision to mute/block. Your mental wellness and healing come first.
With nothing but loving takes for you,
Do you have questions about grief? Send Mandy your questions via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. All submissions are anonymous, with details occasionally changed to protected against identification.
You can also submit a question here: Ask A Grief Coach!
Mandy Capehart is an author, small business owner, editor, certified grief and life coach, and creator of The Restorative Grief Project. The Restorative Grief Project is an online community focusing on one another’s stories and new methodologies for grief, creating a safe environment for our souls to heal and our spirits to be revived. To learn more, visit MandyCapehart.com or follow her on Twitter. She thinks she is pretty funny. The jury is out.