People are fascinating. We like some people and others we avoid. Culture and values shape us as children. We are trained: rewarded or punished, according to the values of our culture and our caregivers. As we grew and experienced life, we made choices based on our understanding. Our choices may or may not be in sync with our auspicious beginnings, but they belong to each one of us.
Like culture – politics and religion bring us together and drive us apart. And here we sit, a few days away from mid-term elections. This constant buzz. . . the non-stop banter, dividing the “us” and “them”. EVERYONE has an opinion. What’s most interesting is that we want people to value our opinions and perspective. When they don’t, well – the battle of wits and broken relationships begin.
We cling to our opinions as if they sustained life. We struggle to get out of our own way and look beyond words and our own thoughts. Do we really believe EVERYTHING we think? Ask any meditator, and they’ll tell you the struggle is REAL. Sitting meditation is a discipline of managing our rowdy mind and not running away from ourselves. When we leave the mat – life resumes and can be a frenzied game whack-a-mole vs. gladiators. Irony is that we are all equally impacted by the discord. We want to get along AND we want to be right. They cannot co-exist. . . or can they?
What do we do?
- First – stop talking. Not forever, for a few moments. Frequently talking is undisciplined and complicates painful situations. Be still.
- Next – simply sit and breathe. Feel your breath. Focus on the exhale. Repeat for at least 30 seconds. This helps your heart and mind sync up and you think more clearly. Be Intentional.
- Now – explore your own discomfort before trying to manage or control someone else’s. This is not about converting others to our way of thinking, it’s about awareness. Be clear.
- Use this time for self-reflection.
- Consider why you are upset and if it might parallel the feelings of the other person(s).
- Most opinions are cultivated from our vulnerabilities and passions ~ fueled by pain, fear and the desire to connect or gain approval. Unfortunately – if we are not mindful, our opinions can be loudly dressed up as the need to be “right”. After all, isn’t that how we started our education: drilled and rewarded for getting the right answer? Unfortunately – not everyone has the SAME right answer.
- Finally – is this a relationship you would like to continue? Is it possible for you to be a good listener and not a witty and fabulous debater? Not every difference can be solved or transformed in the heat of a moment. If you have a desire to continue the relationship, try cooling the fires instead of fanning the flames. First for yourself, then with your friend or colleague.
Below is an outline that may help you remember – the next time, what to do:
The nanny-nanny-boo-boo rhetoric of current politics and right-fighting have shed light on the fact that we are no wiser than our ancestors from centuries ago. Conversations heat up quickly. People we love can trigger us and things escalate quickly. Before you get into your next battle of wits only to damage or sever another relationship because of what “they” think… take a moment and pause. Consider a different tact. What can we do different or how can we be helpful? We may not solve the world’s problems, but we just might not add to them if we are better prepared to manage ourselves.