I decided I’d rather love than divide.
Loving keeps my stress way down and dividing makes my stress go way up.
But sometimes choosing to love rather than divide is not so easy, such as right now during our country’s current political state of affairs.
People feel very, very strongly one way or the other, and I’m no different. But in the midst of a heated argument with someone I care about – each one of us taking a different political side – I stopped and took a breath.
I hated the way I was feeling by being all heated up in an argument. Hated that I was getting angry with someone who means a lot to me. I really hated the way I could see this argument dividing us from each other.
So I took a big breath and stopped. I said to him, “I’m sorry for not listening to you. This is not good. I want to fully understand where you’re coming from and I hope you’ll take the time to understand where I’m coming from, too. We both have good reasons for choosing our political sides, so rather than continue to make you wrong, I’d like to understand.”
All you have to do is listen
We both let out a sigh of relief, and I could feel my stress disappear.
I want this for you, too, if you feel stressed, anxious and even angry during the crazy political time we’re in.
All we have to do in order to calm down is simply listen. Just listen to the person on the other side of the political fence. With an honest, open heart and with true, real, not lip-service compassion, just listen to the person who sees things differently than you do. Sit and listen to their stories, their reasons and their beliefs. Park your own beliefs and arguments in the back lot for the time being and just listen.
It feels really good. There is a human being sitting across from you and you’re no better than they are and they’re no better than you. In fact, we’re all the same underneath it all. We all want the same things. We all want to be safe and happy. We just have different ways of trying to get these things.
But remember something important. Just because you’re listening doesn’t mean you have to take their side or adopt their viewpoint. You can hang on to yours and you can take a strong stand for yours. You can take action. You can do whatever you want to do. Listening doesn’t turn you into a mousy wimp. Listening doesn’t get you trampled on. Listening just stops the angry divide, calms your stress, lets you get to know the person sitting across from you, lets you open your heart, and lets you connect with another human being who is essentially just like you.
Listen with compassion rather than anger and you’ll be very surprised to discover that not only will you get your own point of view across more effectively but you’ll feel better. You’ll find that when you truly listen to someone else with an open, sincere heart – it’s pretty near impossible to be angry and stressed. But take it from me that it’s very, very easy to be stressed when you hold the viewpoint that people who don’t think like you do are wrong or even crazy.
I get anxious when things don’t make sense to me
When I think other people are dead wrong and that their beliefs make no sense, that’s when I start getting anxious because when things don’t make sense to me, I get afraid of the deep unknown. But when I listen, suddenly there is no deep unknown anymore. Listening shines a light on that deep, dark unknown. Listening tells me why people believe the things they believe and then it makes sense to me, so I feel more calm. I may not agree with them, but I feel more calm because I can see where they are coming from.
Writer Ann Voskamp said, “Though people may not hold the same opinions — they can still hold on to each other.
“People may not see eye to eye — but there’s always a way to still walk hand in hand.”
Have you seen the story from Huffington Post about the liberal waitress who got a $450 tip from a conservative? The waitress worked at a restaurant in Washington, DC that usually attracts a liberal minded clientele. She was working during inauguration day. The conservative was in town for Trump’s inauguration. So happens she is black and he is white, but the story was not about race. It was about shared humanity.
He paid for his $72.60 bill and left her a $450 tip, “in honor of our 45th President,” he wrote on the receipt. The note said: “We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues, but if everyone would share their smile and kindness like your beautiful smile, our country will come together as one people. Not race. Not gender. Just American.”
The waitress said this experience has shown her how important it is for Americans to be honest and kind to one another.
“We need to see the things that make us similar,” she said. “Because, yes, this is our president now. But how do we talk about working together now? The president is one person, but we are still a whole body of people ― an immense body of people.”
The dentist who left the tip said, ““It’s really our duty to make America great ourselves, not one person but ourselves.
“And that’s by respecting and loving one another no matter how much we disagree with them.”