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The Eye of the Beholder

challenge communication compassion open-minded Sep 04, 2022

Hey Everyone, Welcome to this week's post.

Today, I'd like to follow up on the question I posed last week:

How do you form your opinion on issues that are important to you, like whether or not we live in the land of opportunity?

 Again, I'm less interested in your answer to the question of whether or not you believe we live in the land of opportunity but MORE interested in how you arrived at that conclusion.

HOW do two people, with similar life experiences arrive at such polar opposite perspectives on this or any subject?

I remember an experience I had with a good friend who was completely bamboozled into proposing to a  woman who was clearly manipulative and taking advantage of his good nature.

Even though he's VERY intelligent he was completely blinded by his emotional attachment to his belief that she was the one.

Ya know scientists have taken brain scans of people who are in love. What they discovered is that they were remarkably similar to the brain scans of people who ingested cocaine. Their subjective reality was so colored by their emotions that their ability to make rational decisions by objectively processing information has been compromised.

They don't see objective facts that are staring them right in the face when they contradict their tightly- held, emotionally charged beliefs. So, there's certainly some truth to the notion that love is blind AND in the eye of the beholder.

So, when any of us have a similarly strong, emotional attachment to subjective beliefs it's extremely difficult to be open-minded and EVEN consider the value of an opinion that's different from our own.

We can't escape the fact that someone we know will share a very different worldview, on a subject that both of you have emotional attachments.

It doesn't matter that the reasons for the attachments are completely different. In these instances, we can choose to avoid the subject altogether for the sake of the relationship.

Or we can get into a shouting match trying to convince one another how stupid the other person is, OR and this is my preference we can decide to maintain our composure regardless of the intensity of our emotional attachment.

We can also agree to seek common ground - even if the only area of agreement is to keep the conversation civil, maintain the relationship, and respect another opinion. Recognize their right to choose their own beliefs and experience the consequences of those beliefs.

I've facilitated communication workshops in the past and I can't imagine ANY facilitator would instruct participants to yell and call each other names because THAT increases their motivation to listen, agree and change their opinion. 

Instead, challenge your emotional attachment to your opinion, and consider shifting your focus on maintaining the health of the relationship. Be willing to endure the discomfort associated with listening to a  very different opinion WITHOUT losing your mind.

Accept THEIR right to maintain an inflexible emotional attachment to either their opinion or to be right. We can't control how they behave but we might actually learn something from another well-intentioned though misguided human being that we care about.

So ask yourself, am I open-minded? Am I willing to treat someone with a deeply-held, but the opposing point of view with the same level of respect I'd like them to show me? Am I capable of having an adult conversation or will I revert to childish name-calling and yelling? And finally, am "I" acting in a way that serves as a model for my kids, colleagues, or others?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter and encourage you to visit my website to learn more about my counseling and coaching services.

Until then stay well and take care.


PS: Click here for the Facebook Video of this post!

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