Friday, March 27

Embracing Differences ........... 3-27-15

     Who likes tension in a relationship?  Wouldn't it be good, learning a skill that reduces that possibility?  Embracing differences honors everyone trapped in the web of a contentious relationship issue.  It helps when relating with loved ones. This practice prevents the two forms of inauthentic relating: evasiveness and indirect

     Can you imagine what it would look like, clearing the air with someone who irritates us, doing so nonjudgmentally, arriving at answers we never dreamed of?  Tonight I'll introduce this skill, in another post it will be demonstrated.  This practice steers us away from assuming, analyzing, interpreting and assessing the behavior and words of others.  When exercising one of these four possibilities, we are not present.  We are being controlling, instead. Yes, manipulative.

     The best part is this skill promotes intimacy, meeting our need to understand and be understood.  When using this truth
skill, fears we may have in a relation-ship dissipates. We can embrace the relationship fear-lessly because judg-ment will not take place. How great is that?  We do not deny big parts of ourselves in order to keep the tie with that person.
Defining the Skill
Embracing differences is taking in several points of view at one time so that you can consider them in relation to one another.   It is listening and empathizing with opinions that differ from ours while still being grounded with our boundaries and perspective. 
    This skill reminds me of a quote:
"Our mind is like a parachute.  It only works when it is open."
     I add a corollary: we don't want our minds to be so open that our
brains fall out.  This skill is about step-ping away from black and white thinking.  Typically, when someone sees things differently than we do, we say they are wrong.  This practice helps us not do that.  In many cases, when there is a difference we think we have three possibilities: flee, yield or fight.  This truth skill provides another option.

     We expand our vision.  When we realize that we can hold different positions without either of us being wrong, we can all fit in, just as we are. There are some sacrosanct areas: murder, stealing, lying, etc. are never right. But other than these and a few others, the sky is the limit.

    Our perspective is broadened.  Moving beyond preconceived notions happens when exercising this skill.  Narrow-mindedness is reduced.  Right-sized, we are.  We become aware that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, when relating with another or a group.  In recovery, this is Tradition Two.  We operate by consensus---everyone's voice has to be heard and considered before coming to conclusions.

    Do you know what is absent with this approach?  Dominance.  Ego, pride.  Instead, there is mutuality, reciprocity, honesty, authenticity, integrity and emotional safety.  This provides a win-win situation where normally conflict would arise.

    No longer is is our way or the highway. Same is true, the other way, too.  We move beyond passivity.  It is critical expressing our feelings and needs, when relating.  Embracing differences is a terrific antidote to the sickness of codependency.  In this post, this subject is detailed.  But for a one sentence definition, codependency is surrendering our opinions or values because we fear the anger or rejection of another.

     I no longer suffer from this disease.  A slave to it, I was, for decades.  Freedom from its shackles happened after working intensely on this weakness of character for three years. I have been maintaining it for another eight, using recovery.  I attend Al-Anon Family Groups, drinking in the principles learned from relationships I've developed there and its literature.  Anne Wilson Schaef's book on this subject is an enormous help as is Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend.


Thumper said...

Dear Pablo,

You are right that so many of us interpret and assess another's behavior. We do this mainly when we are projecting our issue onto someone else.
It is fascinating to learn that this is actually a form of control.

So many of us make judgments and assumptions based on our preconceived notions. I am guilty of it and I am glad that you have given me a reminder on how to relate authentically.

Someone said...

I feel like I've gotten quite a bit of experience with differences in my life living here in America, because everyone here is very diverse and you get a lot of chance to relate to all sorts of people. Also the place that I work at has a diverse culture and helps me embrace other ethnicities. This is helpful in everyday life as well, being able to interact with all sorts of people and personalities, helps make you a divergent person.

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From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.