How to turn towards one another [even when we don’t always agree]
BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN OPPOSING MINDSETS
[you’re being right, doesn’t make others wrong]
As our month of learning how to be interconnected comes to a close, I wanted to address a subject that I know many of us have had difficulty with, especially in the last few years.
We’re living in divided and difficult times, with discomfort becoming a part of our everyday life.
Rather than seeing the Oneness in our world, many have taken to externalizing their anger and aggression about current day events. To live an open-hearted, thoughtful, and more sympathetic life in the face of trying times, we need to confront the darkness not just in the world, but also inside our own lives.
Thinking that “I’m right and you’re wrong” doesn’t build bridges or help create connections.
You are not alone
The first step to building bridges amongst those who might be divided is understanding that the struggles you face and the difficulties you are experiencing are not unique to you.
It may feel as though you are an island confronting an ocean of rage and dissimilarity; however, this is a common experience that many of us feel.
Keeping this in mind, begin to build empathy with those amongst your community, certainly, but also amongst those not in your immediate networks – particularly those with whom you may disagree with.
One way you can begin to experience greater connection is to find gratitude for all the moments in your everyday life, even in the smallest sense. Perhaps a grocery store clerk was pleasant to you; perhaps you had a small, but kindhearted conversation with a stranger at the bank; perhaps your child gave you a warm embrace in the morning.
Being grateful for such moments reminds you that you are not entirely alone in the world.
Small Steps – Focus on Similarities
Taking small steps to acknowledge the similarities that exist amongst humanity will help encourage you to be more proactive in building the bridges that you may feel divide us.
When politics and other life challenges divide people, it can be tough to come back together. I read an article recently that said it was common for people from different political beliefs to marry in the 60’s [like my parents, who 50+ years later are still together] but nowadays, it is becoming less common and less accepted. We have essentially shut down our ability to connect with those who may be so much like us but we’re unwilling to see them as reflections of ourselves because they marked the “other” box on a ballot.
There are an infinite number of things that bring us together, including the care we have for our families and friends, the fears we have about personal struggles and professional drama, and the hope we have for a better future.
Recognize some of these on a daily basis in small ways, and articulate these similarities to those around you, in meaningful and open minded ways.
Boundaries – Respecting Differences
At the same time, some differences need not be bridged. In fact, the differences between us help to maintain the strong diversity that makes the human experience so rich.
The way in which we process pain, trauma, and struggle will always be unique, and it’s important to let others have their space to engage in this reflection on their own terms.
Building community and reaching out across spaces of difficulty are very important, but just as important is recognizing that some differences may never be resolved, and choose instead to focus on the similarities while acknowledging the value in having some differences in opinion.
Ultimately, in a respectful and open-minded dialogue, differences are a healthy by-product of debate and discourse.
One of the most important ways you can begin to improve relationships and build bridges is by being mindful of your own reactiveness.
Taking pause, and being patient with yourself in times of heated debate or challenging situations can help you respond positively. When building unity, it’s important to have both an open mind and an expanding heart.
Do your homework before saying something that maybe isn’t 100% accurate. Consider all sides and reflect on whether what you’re saying is really coming from a place that is meant to heal, and not harm.
When the world seems overwhelming and eternally fractured, it can be difficult to engage in challenging debates with others or even just have them near us, in our circle of friends and family.
But to help the human experience continue to evolve and move forward, we must be willing to turn towards one another. Even when we don’t fully understand someone else’s point of view.
By taking small steps to acknowledge others’ humanity and the differences they bring to the table, we can open our minds to understanding and identifying the commonalities that exist amongst all of us.
We can learn to agree to disagree, respect one another and begin to rebuild a healthy amount of harmony – even from across the aisle.
Share the love…
Now over to you…
Will you choose, with an open mind and compassionate heart, to turn towards others who you don’t always agree with and see the interconnections that exists between you and them?
Chrissy Gruninger is an author and mindset coach. She mentors people on how to live their ONE beautiful life, wherever they may be. Her latest book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana explores her life in Costa Rica and both the challenges of working and living abroad as well as the beautiful life we can create from those experiences.
She loves her rainforest beach shack in Costa Rica, the sunshine and the rain and passionately believes that through intentional actions we create more happiness, health and harmony in the world.
Her goal: to empower others to thrive in an imperfect world.