5 Steps for Dealing with Differing Opinions

1) People believe what they believe for a reason

Whether it matches with the worldview given to them by culture or community or they had a personal experience that created this belief, people believe what they believe for a reason. Remember, the same way YOU believe what you believe for what you think are good or the “right” reasons, so do others. Even those that differ from you. If you do not understand the WHY, you will likely never actually understand what “the other” believes, as you will be filtering it through your own why and reasons, and you can never empower your opinion by adopting #2.

2) Understand that there are likely some truths in both sides

For the average person, there are truths and values in their chosen political party that resonate with them and that is why they label themselves as such. This extends to perspectives beyond politics as well. Acknowledging this does not mean these have to become our truths or that they are entirety is truthful but by staying open to learning from differing opinions, we can evolve and empower our own beliefs in some way. When we close ourselves off to others’ belief systems and worldviews, we limit our own understanding of the world by remaining one dimensional. This means we are more interested in not being wrong than we are in truth or in the highest good for all.

3) A belief rooted in fear or pain will not be easily reexamined when presented with facts

Let’s say John Doe’s mom was mauled by a tiger in front of him. This created a lot of pain and trauma for John Doe. Despite being presented with evidence and facts that this is unlikely or statistically impossible to happen again and the benefits of tigers to the ecosystem, they devote their life to erradicating tigers from the earth to protect themselves and others.
When someone’s belief system is rooted in a traumatic experience or a need pacify their feelings of insafety, it will be difficult to reach them with information that confronts their beliefs as they will be processing everything through that traumatic experience. This becomes like the lens through which they see the world and to question this will feel very unsafe for them. This can become dangerous when certain narratives and movements tap into our unprocessed traumas because it makes us vulnerable to exploitation and ungrounded thinking. (Watch my Strong Inner Foundation video for more on this.)

4) Remember, you could easily be this “other” person

If you had been born to different parents. If you were born in a different place. If you had a different experience early in life. If something had been a little bit different in your life, you could easily have different beliefs and perspectives. You think the way you do because of all of the influences of your life that likely this person doesn’t have because they aren’t you and vice versa.

5) Remember who this person is

There is a very very small percentage of people who’s beliefs actually endanger or oppress others and therefore need to be separated from the general populace. Taking this into account, keep in your mind that you will continue to share space with this person in some way. Realize that YOU are contributing to polarization and extremism if you are unwilling to continue to recognize this person as your friendly neighbor, your chatty grocery cashier, or your loving grandparent. If you want others to consider your perspective, you must be willing to give that same consideration. Taking into account that this person believes what they believe for a good reason, they likely have truths you haven’t considered, they may carry trauma that is influencing their perspective, and that under different circumstances you could easily be on that side, who benefits from brushing under the rug those that differ from you if they never actually will go away? This is how you become the very thing you think you are fighting against: when the oppressor becomes the oppressed, the the tolerant becomes the intolerant culture police. They will still be your neighbor, your cashier, or your grandparent. They will still be your countryman. They will still be your planet-mate. And there’s infinite depth to people beyond this one dimension and good within them that you will never be able to recieve if you forget who they are.

I offer for consideration that it is THROUGH our DIFFERENCES that we truly understand UNITY.
Not by erraticating differences with an illusory sameness. We are not the same and we don’t have to be to coexist peacefully, respectfully, or lovingly. There can be no growth or innovation if we are all the same. There will only be stagnation.

It is by recognizing you are the same as someone different than you that you can begin to understand, at your essence, you are actually ONE.

You spill the same blood when you are cut. You both cried in fear and desperation that time you thought your life was over (but it turned out to be a new beginning). You have both felt the sting of shame and embarrassment as well as the elation of acceptance and validation. You both have tasted bitter betrayals and have felt your heart swell with love. You both have smiled so much it hurts and laughed so much you ached. And when you die, you will leave your body the same and there will be no more illusions that you are different.

No matter your skin color, beliefs, perception, preference, or labels. No matter what it is about you that you think makes you so different than someone else, you are so much more alike to those you perceive as “other” than your naked eye could reveal.

We do not create UNITY by no longer allowing differences but by not being threatened by them. We need to understand that it is our simultaneous uniqueness and sameness that makes our world so beautiful. Like passing ships at sea realizing they always have something the other needs, when we allow each other to operate in our authenticity, we will find humanity fits together like a cosmically crafted jigsaw puzzle.

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