Kaitlin Toner and Mark Leary found in a new study that the more extreme a person’s views the more they experience what is called ‘belief superiority.’ Sounds about right doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the study goes on to say that people with this belief system experience disdain for anyone who doesn’t share their views. Now that seems to be a potential issue that could serve to isolate the person and begin slowly, but surely, to cause their lives to close in on them. Their circle of friends and acquaintances getting smaller and smaller. Is this really the best way to live our lives?
The challenge seems to be to realize we have a right to our own opinions and beliefs but not to judge others if they do not share them. Maybe, just maybe, if we opened ourselves up to truly listening to others and trying to understand their point of view we may broaden our own horizons, consider nuances in perception and generally have a life that expands with age rather than closes in on us. When we communicate with others we take their words and associate different meanings to the words depending on our own life experiences. When you take the time to ask someone what they meant by a particular comment and they more fully explain, it is usually not at all what you had initially interpreted it to be. Could it be that saying to others, ‘Help me understand what you mean by that point’ or asking them to give you an example so you could more fully understand what was meant could be the winning combo to better understanding and a deeper respect for their point of view?
Do you have any beliefs or opinions that seem to separate you from other people? Is it possible to modify them slightly and find more in common with them? We all walk in our unique shoes, with life challenges to overcome and life lessons to learn. Knowing this it just seems logical to withhold judgment and accept the fact that we are all doing as much as we can at the moment to get through life in one piece.
Difference in others can be a growth opportunity for us if we choose to see it that way. I have never met a person who is 100% right or 100% wrong. Maybe a part of life is about learning to accept the shades of grey in others. The ability to compromise or at least more fully understand their point of view is a big thing. We can become better at it every day once we realize that life is exactly as it is supposed to be …warts and all … and we can choose to live it to the fullest or not. It is all up to us … that is the beauty of free will.
A quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn seems to speak to this whole topic.”To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.”
Have a great few days!