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Do We Attract Conflict & Intolerance?

CR writes: I got a call awhile ago that really made me think. It was from someone I love very much. She’s having a hard time with various people. Individuals and groups.

The truth is, she really was a target of their outrage. Some of this happened on social media, some via phone. It was because they were associating her with a concept they are against.

It was painful to hear about this because it hurt her, and I didn’t want her to be hurt.

Yet, at the same time I’ve known her for years, and I’ve heard many times her knee-jerk attack of others for their beliefs, affiliations, and so on. Even in the same phone call she used a term I consider derogatory about men (a kind of “us-against-them” term.)

I tried gently to explain this, but because I didn’t want to hurt her I wasn’t sure how direct to be. After all, none of us is perfect.

But this is something that comes up time and again, in everyone’s life.

It is often referred to as the law of attraction.

People like to use that term for the positive. But it can be much harder to see the reflection in the mirror when it isn’t so positive.

Stereotype others–don’t be surprised if you are stereotyped.

Forget to give others the benefit of the doubt–don’t be surprised when people assume the worst of you.

Condemn people for their deeply held beliefs–well, it will happen to you, too.

There is a mirror and it reflects back to us.

Can we be attacked even if we don’t attack?

Yes we can. There are other reasons we can be the object of scorn, derision, or abuse.

Sometimes taking an unpopular, politically incorrect stand can lead to people ganging up on you.

But I’ve found something valuable over the years, something that I’ve really come to rely on for self-improvement: The conflicts in my life are usually (but perhaps, not always) the result of how much conflict I’m willing to engage in. The more tolerant I am, the more tolerance is mirrored back to me. Well, at least most of the time.

No one is perfect.

We all have things we find intolerable, deplorable, or unpleasant. Deciding how we address these things–through aggression and anger, through tolerance and compromise; and when necessary for our sanity, through withdrawal, is worth thinking about.

Do We Attract Conflict & Intolerance?

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2019). Do We Attract Conflict & Intolerance?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Jan 2019
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