The other day I noticed a facebook post that upset me. I’m sure you’ve been in that situation -You know, where someone says something you absolutely don’t agree with. Have you ever disagreed with someone to the core of your being? How did you handle those feelings? What actions did you take?
What about when you find yourself on the side of an argument you are so sure of? Are you the kind of person who is always within the majority? Or have you ever found yourself in the minority? If we continue breathing then at some point we will find ourselves on one side or the other every once in a while. The amazing thing is that no matter what you think, you will always find someone who disagrees or agrees intensely. It’s a fact that can’t be denied- our perspectives are just too unique.
A few of us have more experience being the “other” and excluded from the majority. While it could be said that some people enjoy being different and probably might even purposely go against the grain, there are others that have no choice in the matter. They have an inherent feeling of being overlooked and misunderstood.
It can be hard to find a bridge when your viewpoints vary. If you filter your own opinion as the “normal” or “supreme” opinion it can be unfair to others. I’m not saying that every opinion is true or even should be thought of as such, but I do think it’s important to realize that everyone you meet has unique experiences that they’ve learned from and their own background that influence how they think. Pride and arrogance and refusal to accept others’ thoughts as valid make it impossible to respect differing points of view.
If you’ve ever felt like an outsider at least a few times in your life then it might be easier for you to identify with those who are different from you.
If you’ve had little practice being an outsider, then learn to put yourself in another person’s point of view long enough to become a safe person for them regardless of what you believe. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were them? Allow yourself to have empathy and feel what they are feeling. Being “right” and “correct” is overrated if you are trampling over someone’s spirit. What does a damaged relationship cost to you?
In order to really hear and validate people’s beliefs we need to have compassion. We need to be able to honour people as intelligent and valued in order to take a needed moment to look at things from their point of view. You may never agree but if your response is to jump to conclusions about who they are and think the other person is less than, because they don’t agree with you then you will be shutting people down in a harsh way and not be considered a safe person.
How do you deal with different points of view? Has it ever been difficult for you to put yourself in another persons shoes?