Disconnect Opinion From Identity
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone about a controversial topic or simply something you both don't see eye to eye on? The environment gets tense. You feel a particular heat rising within you. Emotions are running high. Volume increases. Eyes are red and tears are flowing. Suddenly the topic evolves into a one up conversation or a battle of who can inflict more pain via word usage. It's chaos. It's painful. It hurts.
You know what I'm talking about. It happens all the time. I've been around it. I've done it. I've seen it even on social media.
Have you ever wondered why?
The Problem: We associate our identities with our opinions. Makes sense right? "Well, who I am determines my opinion. It shapes what I say."
Yep, you are right. What happens, however, in conversations like I mentioned above is that whenever someone disagrees with our opinions or our thoughts or doesn't see eye to eye with us, we take it as a personal attack. We take it as, they don't see value in me because they don't value (because they disagree with) my opinion. Or they don't see me as worthy of having an opinion or a thought. They hate me. They think I'm stupid. Etc.
When we can disconnect opinion from identity, it is there that we are able to have a civil conversation that leads to mutual and admirable respect.
The Solution: When someone disagrees with your statement, opinion or thought, know that THAT is what they are disagreeing with. They are NOT saying you have no value. They aren't even saying that your opinion has no value. What they are saying is that "I disagree with the statement that you made."
One of the things that I am doing in the spaces that I find myself in is saying things like, "Hey, I'm glad that you've shared that thought with me. And I can see how you got there, but I disagree with it and here's why." I want to affirm that they are valued and that the fact that they were even brave enough to make the statement is awesome. But I also want to be powerful and state that I disagree by doing so gently and within the confines of love.
The more that I am able to do this, the more I can create community spaces that are safe. Full of freedom where everyone walks away feeling powerful and intact and valued and seen.
How can this play out in your locality?