Not everyone is going to like us, get us, understand us, see us clearly, or dig where we’re coming from, that’s just reality, and we aren’t going to understand everyone we encounter, either. I think making the attempt is the thing.
I definitely don’t expect everyone to like everything I write, for example. I put my heart out there, and sometimes I don’t do a great job of getting the feelings and thoughts from my head and my heart into words on a screen; I can live with that. I love and welcome a respectful dialogue about different ideas and opinions. Sometimes someone has a perspective that’s so unique, it makes me think about something in an entirely different way, and I’ll tell you, when I write and when I’m teaching yoga, one of my big goals is not to leave anyone out. I know that’s hoping for a lot, but I always try to think about all kinds of people — people who are happy, people who are suffering, those who’ve endured knifing losses, and those who’ve been spared, those who grew up immersed in love, and those who’ve had to teach it to themselves. I don’t want to alienate anyone.
Sometimes people cling to their ideas like a shield, you just can’t offer a differing opinion, it bounces off, and that’s okay, although I don’t think it’s ideal. It’s just that sometimes a person needs to grip their beliefs to get through. If they drop a particular idea, their whole life philosophy falls apart. Maybe they have coping mechanisms they need at this point in time, but I think it’s going to create problems for a person who can’t even entertain a different way of thinking about something over the long haul because in order to hold onto to their beliefs, in order to make the pieces fit, they have to reject anything that calls those beliefs into question. If someone doesn’t agree, they’re wrong, or they’re the enemy, or they’re blind, or lost or confused. A differing opinion or choice feels like a judgment against them.
I see this on the micro-level, between family members who stop speaking to each other because they dig their heels in. This thing happened, and they’re so attached to holding onto their story about why they’re right and their brother or sister or mother or father or son or daughter is wrong, they forget about the human being(s) they’re sacrificing in order to keep the story of their rightness. Everyone screws up. Everyone. We all say things and do things and think about things in a heated way sometimes. We get bogged down in layers of subconscious rage or pain or ideas we have about injustices that have been perpetrated against us, and sometimes we drag a lot of history into the present moment. You can’t turn back time. You can’t undo something you said or did, or something someone else said or did. You can only work with what is, and where to go from here, but angry stories aren’t going to show up by your bedside to hold your hand one day when you really need it. They aren’t going to cover you with a blanket, and rest a cool hand on your forehead. We don’t have to agree all the time to love each other, and to treat one another with respect and kindness.
If family members struggle with these things, then of course friends will, also, and acquaintances, and you can bet strangers will. Then you start adding borders and different countries and different languages, and you can see how this can lead to trouble. We’re so quick to categorize people, to assume we know, to label someone and check the box. Sometimes people rage, or vent, or call names, because they can’t see the eyes of the person they’re attacking anymore. Intolerance divides us, it creates an us, and a them and makes conversation impossible and obsolete.
When we dehumanize people, we can ignore them or hurt them. We take ourselves off the hook of doing the work to understand them or love them, or be open to anything they might want to say or share. Life is about connection, I truly believe that, and intolerance is the opposite of connection. Sometimes it’s good to examine where you’re intolerant. Maybe it’s with certain aspects of yourself. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a belief system, so don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying I think it’s important to make sure we aren’t clinging so hard to what we believe, we’re blinding ourselves.
Sending you love,