Happy Sunday my friends!
I hope this past week has has treated you well. May we all continue to offer love, prayers and whatever physical or financial support we can for all of the people affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Each week I allow my blog topics to come to me organically, and I always find it funny that somehow something very synchronistic happens where the real world comes into play with my theme, lending me extra inspiration. This week followed suit, as I set out to write about bridging the gap between having differences of opinions, I found myself up until the eleventh hour last night (literally) having a gripping conversation with a relative about why the chasm feels so wide between many of us right now, and what are the solutions.
Having different opinions and beliefs is nothing new, in fact, it’s what makes us human and unique individuals. However, what I have been noticing lately is the collective use of opinions and beliefs to divide and separate those who don’t agree. And then of course we can add in the pitch and overwhelming desire to convert people who don’t agree with you.. It’s a pretty vicious cycle that I believe has led us to a state of anger and intolerance, as well as resistance to seeing a different perspective.
I recently noticed an intolerance in me, in my life, so I set the intention for this blog to open up a conversation on how we can start to change our views on disagreements, A few months ago I was having a conversation with a friend, I was telling a story, stating my opinion about a situation, and became aware that I was being completely one-sided in my depiction of the situation. Half way through the story, my friend stopped me to interject, “Why do you feel the need to make an opinion that’s different from yours, wrong?”
Her questioning of my own tolerance of another person’s opinion floored me. I generally find myself to be a pretty open-minded person, but she was right. I found myself taking a good hard look at why, even in the most mundane of situations, I was in a mindset that my opinion was the opinion.
The truth is, a lot of our problems in the world right now are stemming from the fact that we cannot converse with each other and have a difference of opinion. There’s one side of the spectrum that has disdain for the other and vice versa, and if you don’t agree, you’re wrong.
But the truth also is, opinions and beliefs are highly personal, many of us keep them close to our heart and have an intense emotional tie to them, so how could we possibly expect everyone to agree on everything always? It’s kind of maddening when you think about it, right?
We have all experienced our own individual set of circumstances, influencers, and innate core beliefs that have lead us to the thoughts and opinions we hold today. It’s no wonder we all think and believe differently, we are all incredibly unique! I urge you to remember this the next time you want to paint someone as “wrong.”
I see another problem with clinging to our beliefs and opinions and that is that many of us are not really connected to them. They are “hand me downs” or a product of group think. I started to go through some of my core beliefs, and questioned them in hopes of getting reconnected to why they hold space in my life. I also started to cultivate some important questions for self-discovery so that I could begin to feel empowered by my beliefs and opinions, and ultimately use them for good. I found this exercise of asking these pointed questions to be really helpful and I hope it will be for you too!
– What do my beliefs and opinions stem from?
– Are they tied to a certain group of people?
– Do my beliefs promote separation or unity?
– Are they based in love, or fear?
– How do I share my beliefs and opinions in the world?
When you feel strong and solid within about your own beliefs and opinions, you can start to work on how you interact with others about them, and in many cases, how to gracefully manage disagreements.
Here are some my pointers for maneuvering this kind of conversation:
– From a grounded and loving place, speak your truth.
– Be open to the possibility that the other person might not agree, and that’s ok.
– Be curious, not combative.
– Learn to listen, and avoid jumping in or interrupting.
– Remember that a difference of opinion doesn’t define a person.
I hope this deep dive into beliefs, opinions, and how to manage them, helps you in some way in your interactions out there!
What ultimately came to me during my eleventh hour conversation of the topic, and I’m so glad it did, is, that there is no one right belief or opinion. There is no one single solution to all of the world problems, and so the first step is for us to start to adopt this perspective, so that we can be inclusive and open to the infinite truths, beliefs, and solutions that we all can create to shift the energy of our world.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you manage difficult conversations with differences of opinions, and how you stay strong in your own beliefs. Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org