One of my neighbors has a completely different opinion about what our independence should look like as a country, and I am deeply curious about it. In the past I have found it really doesn’t help to debate about our differing views. I spent the early years of my life in protest and it was valuable, but I learned a lot about effective delivery. I no longer want my interactions with someone who does not share my viewpoint to devolve into a head-butting power struggle. My new tactic, if you can call it that, is to listen for common ground.
OH NO! Really? You might be moaning as you read that, but there is plenty of telling people how they should feel or believe going around, and not enough listening. Even when talking with my neighbor, his wife wanted him to stop telling me his story and “let me go back to what I was doing.” But what I was doing was seeking to understand, so I reassured her I wasn’t a prisoner in the dialogue, I was a willing participant. I was…listening.
Seeking to understand requires that you listen in a fully present state. Reacting and getting mad about what someone believes isn’t the way into their heart – which is where change and understanding begins. The secret to helping each other shift is in allowing each other to believe whatever we do believe, and from that place of freedom, bridging the gap between us by finding common ground.
I’m not suggesting this is easy, and it definitely takes time. But it is incredibly valuable. Many people around us feel disenfranchised, left behind, left out, angry, sad or disappointed (among other things). How can we truly help each other? Listen longer. Empathize. Encourage. And above all let freedom ring.
Let freedom ring. Take some time this week to explore what that statement means. How important is it to have your freedom of thought? Of action?
Independence Day is about freedom. Share freedom with others this week, give them the space to experience their creative genius. Listen, can you hear it? That’s the bell of freedom ringing :)