Tug of war

An important part of mindfulness practice is bringing awareness to your mind’s constant leanings—its wants, preferences, perceptions, and beliefs. If your mind is like most, it is shameless. It never stops putting in its two cents’ worth.

And it gets really interesting when you start interacting with others. You notice others expressing their minds’ interests with abandon. At times it may seem as though you’re both competing for the floor to express your respective self-important thoughts.

Different Opinions

But, what happens when someone else’s wants, thoughts, and opinions are vastly different from your own? This is a time to engage mindful awareness. Do you…

a) Get frustrated with the other person?
b) Try to change the other’s viewpoint with reason?
c) Label the other as wrong and begin to argue?
d) Decide the other is not worthy of your time or attention and abandon the conversation?
e) All of the above?

A Different Approach

Most of us typically resort to one or more of the strategies listed above. But there are other strategies not listed above that I prefer.

  1. Listen attentively and attempt to understand where the other is coming from.
  2. See if there is any common ground between you.
  3. If no consensus can be found, agree to disagree.
  4. Accept that he or she has different views.

Accepting Differences

The person you disagree with was most likely raised by different parents than you, has a different genetic makeup, and has been influenced by different people throughout the years. It only makes sense that he or she thinks and feels differently!

Given that, shouldn’t we rein in our expectations and stop trying to force others around us to have the same perspective? With mindfulness, we can practice being aware of our own reactions, seek to understand others, and accept different points of view.

Relationship breakdowns and wars tend to be the result of two factions trying to force each other to adhere to their own agendas. Practicing mindfully accepting others’ differences—whatever they are—will stop the inner and outer wars in our own relationships, lives, and communities.

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