19th November 2018

Alienated from relationships and politics

About change, loyalties, trust and power in society and relationships.

Change is necessary and not always comfortable or welcome. We can feel quite alienated when change is happening simulaneously in relationships, society and politics; when all three no longer offer the trust and safety we crave and expect. What to do?

Whatever your political stance, you will agree, that in many countries this is a time of political and social change, on a number of levels, and not everyone feels comfortable.

Take the UK, and if you live elsewhere*, you may recognise some of this in your own country and society.

  • Questions are asked and decisions need to be taken regards ongoing relationship with other countries.
  • Divisions have opened up within political parties, and different attempts are made at resolving the problems.
  • Politicians come and go. Some disappear only to resurface in a different guise. Some get the feeling of being stabbed in the back; others get the feeling of being stabbed in the front.
  • Old alliances give way to new (fragile) ones.  

No wonder some people take stock of the value of their own loyalties.

While some feel the party they support has left them, others make a conscious decision to leave of their own accord. 

At the same time, economic uncertainty continues, social cohesion appears more fragile than ever in many places across the globe and the daily trauma of attack and death is not ceasing.

It is all very unsettling. Even more so, if you feel alienated from those you trust/ed to have your best interest at heart – relatives, friends, parties and politicians.

It is unsettling for many, who say they feel cheated, disenfranchised, disappointed and angry:

“I did not sign up for this…

I did not vote for that…

You have changed beyond recognition…

These are not my values…

I have been loyal for decades, but enough is enough…”

You may recognize the sentiments and may think of many more.

And as much as you may disagree with party and / or government politics, you will find others who may disagree with you on the very same points. Families, friends, people at work and party members across the land are debating, arguing and disagreeing with each other, a lot more explicitly now, than before.

A nerve has been touched, and I wonder why?

  • Who has ever promised that relatives, friends, political parties and fellow citizen we elect to offices do what we expect them to?
  • Why is it that we are struggling with disappointment, which creates even more friction in the relationships we have?
  • Why are we surprised about change, that may not have our interest at heart?

Without wanting to use a clichéd or lazy argument, it reminds me of those key moments in life, when we feel alienated and deeply disappointed by those we trusted most – our parents or first caregivers, intimate partners, friends, employers, role models.

We entrusted them with something very special: our hopes, our safety, and our future, our meaning.

Often something needs to go wrong first, for us to realize that others are limited, just the way we are.

[bctt tweet=”Often something needs to go wrong first, for us to realize that others are limited, just the way we are.” username=”KarinSieger”]

We cannot do it all, we make mistakes, get it wrong and disappoint. Some people try their best, others don’t even try. And in those key moments we may feel cheated, disrespected, hurt, angry, and we have lost trust.  What then?

  • We may run away in distress or disgust and take the unresolved pain of disappointment with us, and find it difficult to trust again.
  • We may stay and put up with it, unquestioningly, while seething inside and losing ourselves with every passing day.
  • Or we talk about it, try and work it through, and then make an informed choice about the next appropriate step.

And whatever we choose, some people will tell us not to. Some people will feel aggrieved with our choice and question our loyalty to them.

The feeling of alienation, judgment and disappointment can spread like concentric circles.

Life is about managing transitions. It is risky to expect others to do the job for us.[bctt tweet=”Life is about managing transitions. It is risky to expect others to do the job for us.” username=”KarinSieger”]

We can do that up to a point, in friendships, intimate relationships, at work, in the groups we belong to, in political parties and others.

But if alignment with others and loyalty to them is not kept in line with our own values, principles and ultimately our own identity, than this can lead to serious disappointment. Because people can change and organisations can change. Rightly or wrongly.

We cannot wake up one day feeling betrayed, if we chose to be asleep for the majority of the ride.

[bctt tweet=”We cannot wake up one day feeling betrayed, if we chose to be asleep for the majority of the ride.” username=”KarinSieger”]

As adults and voters we have choices and responsibilities, which we did not have as children. Change happens, and we are allowed to change our minds, too. And within our society we have permission to respond to change.

Change is not easy, but it is necessary.

It is risky in relationships as in politics to give power to the other, if we are left feeling disempowered.

And so I see the current change in UK politics as something that we all are part of. For some it is a wake up call and time for serious introspection, just like when a relationship is in crisis.

We can bemoan change, by all means, but we are also capable of and responsible for the choices we make.

*(I am aware that the sentiments expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect all political or social realities around the globe. No offence is intended.)

(This post is based on an article written for Welldoing.org)

You might also be interested in other posts about Being Part of Society.

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