The past few years show we need to learn how to respect others with different opinions. Unfortunately, our tolerance for others’ thoughts about government isn’t what it once was. Too many people are arguing over who is right or wrong. Family and friends either stopped talking to each other or have cut all ties. We have choices to cope with the divide over politics or any other controversial subject.
Sometimes we fail to see the root of what divides us from each other. Instead of engaging in another debate about politics, we can hit pause. What if, instead of being defensive or on the offense, we stop and think about our feelings. Hitting pause to stop and think about our thoughts, behaviors, or emotions gives us time to identify the issues affecting our conversation. After we reason why we feel or behave in specific ways, we can apply the same thought process to others. We can attempt to find common ground.
What Drives Our Opposition
Fear is a part of why we hold certain opinions. The divide created by different views can reflect a person or group’s feeling of insignificance. Dr. Kirk Schneider found when people think they don’t matter and fear their way of life will disappear, they hold on to those who share their fear.
Our perception of the opposing side is another driving force behind our disagreements. Often, we think a person with an opposite political belief holds the same opinion with their political party. Our perception of a person’s political opinions is, at times, based on what political leaders or spokespeople say, not what our friends or relative believe. When we view things in extremes, we tend to miss a chance to meet in the middle.
Bridging the Divide
We can begin to bring people together by acknowledging our differences and our similarities. Too often, we forget that life isn’t about right or wrong. In between our opinions, ground exists to come together.
Compromise is an essential part of building a bridge to close the divide. We don’t need to be right all the time. Our opinions can benefit from listening to another person’s views. Listening, not reacting, or thinking of our response is something we can learn. When we listen, we may realize we are closer in our opinions than we thought. Through thoughtful discussion, we can readjust our focus from disagreement and instead find common ground. Sometimes we find we share core values.
Arguing with someone to discuss isn’t productive; it’s quite the opposite. How often have we changed our minds when someone is lecturing or telling us how or why we are wrong? More than likely, never. Before we give in to the temptation to push our opinion on another, we can hit pause.
We can choose how to control our thoughts and behaviors. Whether we try to find common ground through non-argumentative ways or engage in listening, we have options. If we discover we can’t get past our perceptions of others or their opinions, we can seek out groups that focus on bringing people together. A mental health center with group therapy is an option to help us find common ground with others. Our therapists at Avalon Malibu encourage us to gain insight and kindness. To learn how to find common ground with others, call Avalon Malibu at (844) 857-5992.