Do you know where the old saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” came from? Back in the day you would bathe once a week if you were wealthy or once a month if you where poor. Dad would get the fresh water, then any other boys of the house hold, then Mom followed by the girls and last the baby. By the time the baby hit the water it was mud water. You could literally not see the baby and throw it out with the bath water if you where not careful.
In this week’s blog I’d like to offer that just as with not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, one can see multiple points of view of an event and take away from it what is valuable to you. The more I work on managing my mind and helping clients see their thinking, the more I realize that I can see two opposing views and hold value in both. When we hold the concept of all or nothing in our thoughts and in our actions, we miss growing opportunities.
“If you believe this way, then you must think that.” But why must we think this way? It’s so much more complicated than that; people can enjoy a common interest, but for completely different reasons. For instance, Gal One likes going to the racetrack because she likes the sound of the cars while Guy One likes to go because he enjoys looking at the different models of cars. They both enjoy the same interest, but for different reasons.
With all or nothing thinking might I suggest that you become clear with your beliefs and convictions first, with your own reasons for believing something, and understanding that when you listen to others, they may have differing points of view than you that are just as true; their reasons may not be your reasons. Although deciding this is what you believe, it makes sense to you, and you don’t have to prove it or change anyone’s mind is a comforting thought to some, deciding that your view, as being the best, might not serve you or those around you.
One of my go to emotions is curiosity; if you approach conversations with true intent to understand where a person is coming from, and not to fix or change their point of view, you can learn to truly see how it is they see it. Slowing down and explaining a viewpoint can be a challenge for anyone, especially when emotions are involved. When you choose to really listen and hear someone explain their stance on a topic it is surprising how much that person gains respect and trust in you just by the fact that you have no intent to change them.
Understand that just because you were willing to listen does not mean that the person you heard from wants to hear from you, sometimes people just want to be heard and to have someone listen intently and without judgment. Remember growth is an individual job and the more respect you show toward others the more respect you are showing towards yourself. Don’t engage if you are not truly curious, be willing to be truthful with yourself and others on the limits you have for certain topics that might need more development on your part of belief.
When someone is listening and you are actually present with them, not thinking of what to say in return but merely listening with intent to understand, life can open up to you and the relationships around you.
“When you have the choice in being right or being kind, choose kindness.” – by Dr. Wayne Dryer.