So here we are in the days before the election. Many of us are struggling with the divisiveness that is prevalent everywhere in the media right now - political ads and opinions of all kinds, coming in from the TV news, commentary and pundits, radio, talk shows, late night comedy, newspaper, online news, e-mail, Instagram, FB and twitter. And, worse yet, it may even show up in the conversations with our families, friends and loved ones.
You might find yourself struggling between the impulse to argue your point, let it go, pray for the best, focus on something else or just pretend all this isn't happening. We want our candidate to win, or don't want the other one to win, or maybe we don't like either of them. The worst part is, some people we care about are on the other side of the argument. And we might be asking ourselves, "how could they . . . . [fill in the blank]?"
Actually this is the perfect question to be asking right now because it can help us make a shift. . . .
From Judgment to Curiosity When we are in judgement our view is fixed. Something is wrong. The plan is wrong. The idea is wrong. We might even be thinking something is really wrong with this person. When we have decided that someone is wrong or flawed because of a difference of opinion, the focus of our energy shifts from the issue to the individual. Suddenly, we are participating in -- and promoting this huge national divide.
Of course, we may disagree with this person's idea or proposition. But if we want to maintain our relationships through this election and step out of the divisive energy, we can choose to be curious. I wonder why my friend feels this way? I wonder what about this position feels most important to them. What is their personal story about it? Curiosity allows the resistance to soften and the conversation to be more open and flowing.
We can ask them in person (if the relationship allows) but just thinking about them from a space of curiosity and wonderment will energetically create a shift for ourselves and help release the tension. If we decide to ask them about the importance, their feelings and their story, and then it is good to really listen to the answers.
When we listen to someone talk about an issue of importance to them, we strengthen the relationship and our connection. Moreover, when someone listens to us, we feel more like giving that same gift back. So, they may be more willing to hear us too. Listening opens doors and deepens relationships. Consequently, it provides the opportunity for another shift. . . .
From Curiosity to Understanding When we begin to understand why someone feels or thinks a certain way (even if we disagree) it is a little easier to set aside our opposition. When we have more insight into someone's experience on this planet, their choices begin to make more sense.
We can recognize their journey and challenges and allow the painful point of the disagreement to move back into the issue where it belongs. In this way, we restore kindness back into our most important relationships even when there are strong differences of opinion.
The good news is, when we have more understanding for others we begin to have a little more understanding for ourselves: the hardships we struggle with, the things that went wrong and the challenges we face. Now we can be a little more gentle with ourselves and have more compassion for our own experience, which helps us move through those challenges more easily.
I'm not saying this is easy. Personal growth can be difficult. But it brings huge rewards in more peace, contentment, expansive and objective thought, freedom and fulfillment in life, and more joyful relationships.
Blessings to each of you and your loved ones,