I can’t tell you how many people I’ve unfollowed on Facebook because they were crude, rude and disrespectful to other people’s viewpoints.
I attempt to understand where others are coming from, but there are many I really can’t figure out. Their way of looking at the world is so very different from mine. Their values are so different.
When considering opposing viewpoints, you have to truly “walk in their shoes.” Even more, you have to find a way to walk in their skin. How did they arrive at their beliefs? Why is safety more important than hurting people? What have they seen in their lives that formed them the way they are?
You know what formed you. Do you know what formed others?
You can’t change others, but you can change yourself.
In high school, I participated in competition known as Informative Speaking. I had files of data from Newsweek, Time, and other news magazines and newspapers. This was before computers were even in the mind of the average person. I learned various sides of every story.
When you’re faced with opposing viewpoints, educate yourself. Be open to the possibility you’re wrong. I know, heaven forbid you’re wrong! Learn how to take the other end of an argument or the opposing viewpoint. It may be distasteful but give it a try.
The first step is to consider the people you disagree with and learn more about them. You may not agree with their political views or the way they handle their lives. Try to put yourself in their skin. If you had the same fears, if you had the same beliefs, if you had the same experiences, would you believe and act like them.
You can always find information about religions, politics, and more on the internet. You do have to be sure the information is correct.
Read material that you would never consider reading. Do this even if you’re not facing an adversarial situation. It helps you to be open to accepting differences in others. You can look for magazines and books, or you can view blogs and forums related to the topic you want to learn. Watch the television shows they might watch.
You don’t have to agree with everything, just learn so that you can understand them more. You can point out information to them, but don’t expect them to readily accept what you say. Would you accept information someone gives you that is contrary to the way you think?
Play devil’s advocate when approaching any subject, including your own beliefs. Try to pose questions those who believe differently would pose. See if you can understand why they would pose those questions. You might even rethink your own beliefs.
Do you understand the motivations of those who don’t agree with you? Do you understand your own motivations? Self-reflection can bring greater personal understanding. This will assist you in being more compassionate towards others and what brought them to their beliefs.
Use language which opens your mind to understanding others rather than closing the door to those possibilities. When you catch yourself even thinking, “what an idiot,” STOP. This closes your mind down.
Remember, some people won’t accept facts no matter how hard you try to get them to consider them. When this happens, there isn’t any reason to continue engaging with them in discussion. If your difference is with a close friend or family member, accepting them as they are and avoiding the topic is the best strategy.
What if you can’t accept them? What do you do? That can be a tough question. For me, it depends upon actions more than discussion. If someone acts in a way I find immoral, I stay away. If they think differently than I do but are not immoral, I learn how to accept them as they are.
Keep in mind that your lack of acceptance of an individual or even a view point could be due to your own background, your own wounds. This is where I suggest you open yourself to asking for healing.
My favorite little prayer is what I call the Soul Healing Prayer. In this prayer you are asking for healing of the wounds which are affecting your life. I call it “Soul Healing” because my image is of wounds which hurt so much you send away parts of yourself, parts of your soul. In psychology we call it dissociation.
This is how you can apply the healing prayer to people who drive you bonkers because you can’t understand why they think, believe or act the way they do.
Here’s the process…
Consider something holding you back. Since I’m writing about “seeing the other side” of an issue, you could ask for healing of the wound holding you back from wanting to see the other side.
- Then you connect with your spiritual connection. I use Soul Healing Angels.
- Ask them to find and bring back to you any and all pieces of yourself which are missing related to you being open to learning and accepting others who think differently than you.
- Ask for those pieces to be cleaned, repaired and healed.
- Ask that all pieces be fully integrated within you.
- Give thanks.
Simple, isn’t it? The most difficult part is to be willing to remove blocks to attempting to see the other side.
Let me know what you experienced, would you, please?