Many people today are avoiding talking about the election. In fact, some people have lost friendships and relationships over their different political viewpoints.

While at a luncheon not too long ago, I observed the way the room divided along political lines, people gravitating to like energy to support and substantiate their political positions. At this particular event I watched close friends engage in long and painful arguments as each side tried to persuade the other. One of my friends told me that she has decided to block friends and relatives whose Presidential choice was different from hers on social media.

How We Cope

Believe it or not, all of these behaviors are in fact coping skills, aimed at reducing stress during a very contentious political season. However, these stress reduction techniques may not, if fact, be the most healthy or productive coping mechanisms. For if we are going to solve the problems facing our culture, and learn to live together in peace and harmony, we must first develop empathy for one another – regardless of conflicting cultural ideas, points of view, or political philosophies.

Fostering Empathy

Freud once stated that the cost for civilization is neurosis. Meaning, that for humanity to live together, we must collaborate. It has long been accepted that role modeling – “walking a mile in another’s shoes,” for example – can foster empathy. Using my Empathic Process can help you communicate with others with compassion, understanding, and respect. By valuing and validating another’s perspective, you can both invest in the process of problem solving, and collaborate for a transcendent idea, that compliments both of you.

Through empathy you can accept others as they really are, not what you want them to be, without trying to change them or create someone who reflects you. This is how to connect to others in a healthy way. On the other hand, if you continue to deliberately block others who disagree with you, and unfriend them on social media, then you are not, as Freud suggested, constructively co-existing, but rather, in a state of avoidance.

Benefits of Using My Empathic Process

By using my Empathic Process you can dialog with others, despite your differences, no matter how passionate or provocative. This affords you the ability to understand the “Other,” giving you the ability to collaborate, compromise and problem solve.

My Empathic Process can help you overcome the tension of polarization and bias. For when you are prejudiced by bias, all outside voices and all forms of media become selective, as you choose that which serves your agenda. This is how you strengthen your own assessment, while discounting those you oppose. Further, because all humans struggle daily with feelings of annihilation, you tend to socialize, with others, who are like you in ideological culture and philosophy. This offers a certain comfort zone for you and others who share your view of eternity.

However, it is important, as a member of society, to not only familiarize yourself with your ideology, but to acknowledge and recognize that of others. There is a great danger in believing that everyone thinks, acts, and feels the way you do. To not recognize your differences, is to put yourself in the fog of familiarity, and this is how the seeds to oppression, and ultimately anarchy, are sown. Yet through empathy, you can reduce the need for projection, which gives you the opportunity to know your friends more intimately… and is a safety valve for the isolation that can lead to aggression.

To be able to hear your voice, in mutual discourse, helps you learn a little about yourself. This is a way to know yourself, and to recognize your projections…and if those projections are highly charged they may reflect your bias. Now you can challenge your own concepts and ideas, while testing yourself against your environment. Then perhaps, you might recognize a place where you and others can meet, noticing that in many respects, your thoughts and ideas are more alike than they are different.

If however, you isolate yourself from people, who have different opinions, you not only close down any possibility for common ground, but also for mutual conversation and understanding.

So what are some steps you can take toward open, empathic, and mutual communication? In my next blog post, I’ll share some helpful tips that you can use in your relationships with those friends and family members who have opposing viewpoints.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.