Snap Reactions

By Doug Mayberry

April 29, 2019 4 min read

Q: I was at a party in my retirement community a few weeks ago and ended up shooting my mouth off.

The topic of politics came up, and my neighbors and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. We've never had an argument like this before, but I found myself reacting to topics instead of thinking about them.

My neighbors are well-off and very liberal, but I am less comfortable financially. When we started talking about the economy and next year's presidential election, I became very offended by what they were saying.

I ended up going on the attack and made it personal. I am not sure when it all started going downhill and am now ashamed at my reaction.

What went wrong?

A: You may have heard the adage that you should avoid discussing sex, politics and religion. It seems like these areas of conversation are more likely to cause arguments than not.

These topics are very complicated and personal, and it's hard to disentangle ideas and emotions. Given how fraught they are, we often struggle to articulate what we think — especially in the moment!

The safest bet is to avoid talking about politics altogether, but that isn't always possible.

To prevent another snap reaction, identify what your triggers are. Talking about the economy or finances may be difficult topics for you to debate about casually.

Once you know what pushes your buttons, you can know how to tread carefully.

The next time it comes up, avoid getting in the proverbial dirt. When your trigger topics come up, you can either extract yourself from the conversation or redirect it.

One of my favorite tactics is to come to a party with some ideas for conversation. If you bring up something to talk about, you can avoid tricky situations.

An apology goes a long way. You can say sorry for your hurtful statements, even if you still disagree with your neighbors on the economy. — Doug


Q: I've been married twice in my life. When my husband passed away after almost 30 wonderful years, I grieved but was determined to move on with my life.

My second relationship wasn't as successful and ended in divorce. We were a good couple for several years but couldn't make it through some health scares.

Now, my friends are urging me to start dating again, but I don't see the point. I feel like I've passed my expiration date, and the whole thing is hopeless.

Do you think I'm right?

A: No. Don't let your apprehensions get in the way of your living. Life passes you by only when you let it.

The key is to keep a positive attitude and be confident. If you don't believe in yourself, then no dating partner will see your best traits.

Telling ourselves negative messages is often a coping mechanism to allow us to avoid stepping outside of our comfort zones. If you don't allow yourself to try, then you don't have to fear failure: It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, and there are no surprises.

Finally, avoid comparing your new dates to past relationships. You are in a different stage of your life than when you were last dating, and change is unavoidable.

Look to the future and put yourself out there. Live in the moment instead of in the past. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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