DE-POLARIZE YOUR LIFE
We are living in challenging times on so many levels: provide well for you and your family, have meaningful work, bring integrity to personal relationships, show concern for those less fortunate. Any of these require focus and dedication to achieve, and if you are seeking the full package, watch out! You require a strength and courage that is atypical today.
Which brings me to the very point: there is no room in your life for polarization of any kind. Now let’s talk about how to achieve this, since it is hard to avoid polarizing situations or conversations.
1. Accept that others have views diametrically opposed to you. This is the first critical step, and it can be difficult, especially if you are convinced that you are right.
2. Drop the “I’m right, you’re wrong dynamic.” This is related to (1) above, and requires you to expand your world view. This can be very hard, too, because ingrained belief systems have strong roots over time. It is a process, so don’t be deterred if it takes time.
3. See it as a learning experience. Every life encounter can be experienced in different ways: you can get threatened and feel the need to prove your right, or you can just listen to the other person and see if you can learn something. When you choose the latter, you open yourself up to personal growth, and you avoid getting angry.
4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Just for a moment, adopt the point of view of the other person that you find so abhorrent. Try and really sink into the other person’s skin, and feel why they think the way that they do. You might be surprised by what you learn, and as a bonus, you might actually feel empathy for the other person, rather than revulsion, or hate.
5. Take a few breaths before you respond. Give yourself some space and don’t respond like Pavlov’s dog: understand that you are about to unload on another human being whose sole crime is to hold views that you find repulsive. Do you really want to do that?
Any or all of these techniques can move you away from anger, hatred, discomfort, and toward a more accepting, loving, and tolerant world view. In a world where polarization is not just accepted, but encouraged in some quarters, your restraint is a priceless gift.