A theme that has been circulating for me recently is how incapable people are of having respectful conversations or dialogue regarding a topic where they disagree with the other person. I feel it too, I feel the need to step in when people are misinterpreting, misunderstanding, or I genuinely or morally disagree with what they’re saying. But I am an adult, and I’ve been practicing deep listening, so I try to show respect even when what is being said seems triggering to me somehow. When I was in my early 20’s I would have a few drinks in me and fight to the death trying to be “heard” by people that didn’t want to communicate about it in the first place. I am wiser now, and I pick my battles, and I realize you cannot argue with stupid (as my father always said).
This is continuous practice! This isn’t easy! And it especially isn’t easy when the other person is triggered or disagrees and leaves respect aside to start insulting you directly because you disagree. I’ve had a few recent experiences with this and I’ve been thinking on the ways I can handle it better next time. When people go on the defensive and start making it personal or attacking your character, it can be hard to stay calm and not stoop to their level, after all, they’re poking the bear… but ask yourself this- who is going to look worse in the end? The person that couldn’t keep their cool or you, for staying silent when respect turned its back on the conversation? Trust me, bite your tongue, it isn’t worth it.
I occasionally post political things on my personal facebook, as it’s my right, but I always try to start dialogue regarding whatever hot button issue it is. I encourage people to act respectfully, but let’s be real, this is the internet, where people can hide behind the screen, be keyboard warriors, and defend their opinions with personal insults and attacks. So even though we see it for what it is online, I also see it being carried out into the real world where we’re incapable of entertaining the idea of listening to something that doesn’t sit right with us. I think this shows a severe lack of compassion and is a huge problem with the division currently escalating in our country. I have deleted people I felt were being disrespectful or unable to engage without retorting to the likes of a 5 year old throwing all their toys out of the cot when they don’t get their way. I received backlash for deleting people because I was told it was blocking free speech. I disagree and here is why: I believe in free speech absolutely as long as it is done with respect and can refrain from swearing, insults, personal attacks, or comments such as, “you must be STUPID”. I also don’t get down with homogenous blanket statements about specific groups of people because I believe it furthers an agenda of division. So YES TO FREE SPEECH but I will not support your negativity or disrespect, it’s called boundaries- have some for yourself.
These should be basic rules of conversation that we have learned since childhood, but somehow it seems that grown adults are starting to forget how to have a respectful conversation about something controversial without getting so caught up in the emotion themselves that they are unable to converse at all anymore without retorting to the above listed. It makes me SO sad to see the value of communication and genuine conversations going downhill so traumatically. I’m sick of dealing with children in my adult relationships because they haven’t done the work themselves and lack the self awareness to realize change. Heal yourself so you can show up to the table and come from a place of love, even when triggered because you’re able to take the emotion out of it or be smart enough to walk away until you can. I will say it again, HEAL.YOURSELF! Stop getting triggered by the president, your mother in law, your partner, or anybody else that you let get to you.
I had another experience recently where I’ve made a good online friend who I’ve connected with and chatted with for months as we have similar interests and are both active in the same groups. We talked frequently about relationships, tarot & astrology. I loved her energy and she published poetry that I adored almost daily, so reading what she wrote became something I looked forward to. But last week she made a post about Jesus where she spoke about how all people who studied witchcraft, the occult, used tarot or crystals, and had sex before marriage were in fact doing the work of the devil. I took the time to read the whole thing in it’s entirety even though I was immediately triggered. I obviously realize she just had a huge shift and stated that she would no longer have sex until married and that she was pulling away from all things “witchy” as she felt called to come back to God.
I respect all of this and as someone who grew up in the Church and chose it for myself, not because my parents wanted me to, I walked away from the Church in my teens because I found that the people preaching nonjudgement were some of the most judgmental people I had ever met. I felt there was hypocrisy weaved within religion and I knew that I didn’t need to be part of a religion to have a personal relationship with God. Over the years, I have found my own way back to God through the practice of witchcraft, ritual and work with my deities. I do not think there is one right way to know God nor do I think you can ostracize all people who don’t rejoice in the same way you do. I wrote out my response to her with respect and said it made me sad that she was taking the road of judgement when in fact our God says that only he can do that. I pointed out the conversations we’d had regarding tarot and the divine and felt incredibly saddened that she was pointing the finger at others instead of focusing on herself and her path. I pointed out that prayers and spells are the same thing- energy sent out into the universe and just because our rituals and altars don’t look the same, doesn’t mean our relationships with creator are less valid.
I re-read what I wrote multiple times before I sent it and when I woke up the next morning I was blocked. I was bummed. I had developed this amazing relationship with this woman and when I tried to point out that we were more similar than different she decided against conversation even when it was done respectfully, and instead chose to block any and everyone that disagrees with her. This is a problem! As I pointed out above we all have the right to free speech and if it’s done with respect we have a great chance to converse, learn from each other, and come to understanding. But if we cannot even engage in respectful dialogues with differing viewpoints, then we REALLY have a problem because we’re clearly so unsure in our own beliefs that anything that contradicts what we think seems like a threat. We cannot live in our own little bubbles and shoo away all humans who see things differently, it is creating a divide in our world and society.
This past week I’ve been reflecting on this theme of not being able to deal with a worldview that differ from ours. Our whole world is full of humans who look, think, act and believe completely differently then you! Grow up. Sit with things that make you uncomfortable for a second and see where the discomfort comes from and if any of it is being carried by you before you project it onto others.
I recently had a couple of openly devout Christians publicly denounce the Church for becoming more accepting and tolerant of GLBT communities. As an openly bisexual Christian women, I felt so upset seeing people tell me that I’m not welcome in their Church. I am sick of people telling me that my relationship with God has to look like theirs, that I can only have one God, and judging me for my path to God. I do not judge yours, and the personal relationship I have with my creator makes me feel safe, warm, accepted and understood. You do not get to tell me otherwise. Any God I work with wouldn’t be a judgmental selfish God, because I think the universe is much more balanced than childish human emotions.
Here is what I’ve learned-
- I realize ignorance can be frustrating because we expect people to “know” certain things, but try to meet everyone where they’re at, instead of expecting them to be where you are.
- Every conversation is a chance to learn something new. To strengthen your argument or show you another way. We still might choose our way but at least we can open our minds to the possibility of other existences.
- Most of the things we are triggered by say more about us than the other person. So before you match energy and act out, look inwards. Our unhealed inner child is speaking, shut up. Do the work.
- Therapy is good. I hope you’re working some time of self development program because no one is perfect and we are all human. We always need a bit of help to become the best versions of ourselves. Those of us in therapy are in it to deal with those of you that aren’t. I will spend money on all other facets of life regarding my health, why wouldn’t my mental health and self improvement be just as important?
- NOT EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH YOU AND THAT’S OKAY.
- Agreeing to disagree is a legit thing. You can listen to someone’s point of view and still not agree. It’s fine, try it out, you won’t die.
- It is important to analyze our role in misunderstandings. It takes two to fight and it is never one sided, own up.
- Lastly, STAY IN YOUR HEART. If you cannot, then pause the conversation or come back when you’ve returned to the heart. There is no point in continuing a conversation that is pushing you to a place of disrespect. Walk away.
- Boundaries are important. Have them for yourself and for others.