COVID-19 has been hugely stressful. The pandemic has made it difficult to engage in a variety of regular activities. People are dying all over the world. It’s hard enough dealing with a pandemic, but it can be more difficult when people are speaking about conspiracy theories as related to COVID.
If you have a conspiracy theorist in your family, and you know that what they’re saying doesn’t add up to the truth, it can be challenging to deal with them. Here are some ways to manage your situation with a relative becoming more and more of a conspiracy theorist.
Hear them out
Even if someone is saying something that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s okay to hear them out. They may need to get their anxiety off their chest about the pandemic. Their viewpoints may seem strange to you, but there’s nothing wrong with listening to them. So how do you respond?
First , let your relative express themselves. Sometimes they don’t need feedback, but they want to tell you their theories. You can ask questions about their theories, such as: Where did you hear that? You don’t have to query them in a judgmental way. You can express a genuine interest in their opinions. If they’re open to hearing your point of view, share an alternative perspective. It’s okay to find places that prove that what they’re saying doesn’t add up.
If they become defensive, it’s best to change the topic. But there’s nothing wrong with listening to them. They will feel good about being heard.
What if they’re saying something dangerous?
Your family member might say things that are conspiracy-related that aren’t positive for their mental health. If you notice that they’re riled up or spreading information that could hurt themselves or others, it’s okay to say something. Let them know that you’re concerned about them and provide them with resources to debunk false information.
If you see signs that they’re paranoid or there’s something else going on, it might be worth suggesting they see a mental health professional. You have the best interest of your family members, and it’s good to be compassionate rather than judgmental.
When your family member is sharing their conspiracy theories, it means they trust you. They may be nervous about what’s going on with the pandemic, and it’s okay for them to express those things. See it as a sign that they feel comfortable enough to talk about their theories. You don’t have to agree with them as stated above, but be compassionate. They’re probably suffering from anxiety or panic. Let them know that you’re here for them, and ask if there’s something that they want you to do. Suppose their suggestions are completely off-base for your belief system; set boundaries with them. You don’t have to talk about their conspiracy theories if they make you uncomfortable.
Providing resources with facts
One way to deal with the conspiracy theorist in your family is to provide them with resources that show that their theories may not be true. You’d be surprised at how open they could be when they see that the information they heard is false. They may want answers to conspiracies, and that’s why they are researching them. You can lead them to places like Snopes so that they can find out the truth. They may not be getting reliable information, and they’re unaware of it. There’s nothing wrong with referring them to good sources. They may appreciate your interest in their well-being.
Therapy and conspiracy theorists
Sometimes conspiracy theorists could be suffering from mental health issues; there’s nothing wrong with that. If you sense that your family member is experiencing extreme levels of paranoia, you can suggest that they reach out to a mental health professional. Online therapy is one of the best places to get mental health care, especially during a pandemic. If you’re curious about your mental health issues and want to learn more, you can visit Mind Diagnostics.
Remember that your mental health is important, and so are your family members. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help for you or someone else.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-
related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.