What do you do when you disagree with someone?
It takes a certain kind of strength to stand still, holding onto your sense of self and sanity, while in the face of difference, disagreement, seemingly incompatible perceptions of reality. To not bite their head off.
It’s easier to do when the topic is not personally loaded, when the relationship either doesn’t have high stakes for you or the opposite – it has extremely high stakes, but you are so invested and committed that you can let some things go.
The kind of fortitude I’m talking about is what’s needed to stay calm, centered, and non-reactive in moments of “otherness,” to not completely dismiss – kill off – the other in your mind or actions the moment they say something that is not the truth in your world.
This is the same stuff that makes human relationships possible, prevents war, gives sustainability and longevity to our connections. And it is most certainly on top of the list of essential ingredients for true intimacy, love, and conscious partnership.
People call it patience, selectiveness, compassion, wisdom, even-keeledness, calm, non-reactiveness, easy-goingness, laid-backness, even sainthood, and only sometimes refer to the practice and commitment it takes for most of us mere mortals. I call it a disciplined mind.
A disciplined mind and subsequent disciplined actions. Zen Master stuff. It is easier for people who have a less hung-up nature, a less troubled childhood, less reactivity in their blood and bones. For the rest of us garden-variety neurotics, it presents a range of difficulty – sometimes extreme.
As always, the reason for our difficulty staying calm during a disagreement is the Green Dude, my pet name for our Fear-Based Ego Mind, aka, Emotional Reactivity, and the bulk of my focus in my work with couples and individuals desiring more peace and fulfillment in relationships.
The tool I present today is called, simply, My World – Your World.
If staying grounded in yourself in the face of difference without becoming visibly or even invisibly flustered, triggered, hot and bothered is a challenge for you, I invite you to try this on as you move through the world in coming days and weeks.
My World – Your World Exercise
• The next time someone utters something that lands on you as wrong, out of touch with reality, stupid, annoying, or any other version of a trigger from disagreement, immediately say to yourself, “My World – Your World.”
• Picture a camera zooming out large enough to see you and the other person as two small globes.
• Immediately tell yourself that what is true in your world is not all true in theirs, and vice versa.
• Tell yourself to calm down.
• Decide if it’s worth it to you to try – calmly and respectfully – to engage in a discussion with the person about it, each hearing the other’s views, or to just get quiet and exit the conversation quickly with grace and ease.
The main point is to immediately remind yourself, educate yourself, train yourself to see that all of what lives in your perception and experience of reality does not match other humans’ exact contents of their perceptions and experiences of reality.
This is a very important point. This is not presented as a panacea to heal the world’s ills, to heal all human relations. Though, I must say, it could make a major dent.
Now, go practice, grasshoppers!