"Your brain would rather not deal with conflict and debate. It would much prefer to lounge in the comfort of like-mindedness. The instinct for agreement has a huge impact on our lives. It is one of the reasons why in a culture of complaint we join the fray; and the more negativity that surrounds us, the more negative we become. We think that complaining will help us process our anger, but research confirms that even people who report feeling better after venting are still more aggressive post-gripe than people who did not engage in venting."
-Jay Shetty, Think Like a Monk
Last week I found myself complaining about other people's negative attitudes, when it suddenly dawned on me... that's a little negative 🙃.
My news feed is overflowing with negativity - it's increasingly difficult to get away from. If I'm not reading it online, I am bumping into someone in the grocery store looking to commiserate. There's a lot of people very excited to get out and "talk to anyone other than their spouses and children." I'm not sure if you've heard, but 2020 hasn't been an ideal year.
There's so much finger pointing and name-calling - so many blanket accusations being thrown around. There's an abundance of criticism regarding how people are handling these difficult situations that none of us have experience in. I recently saw someone share a post that categorized people as mentally ill for holding more liberal beliefs than their own. Hurt people, hurt people. We've heard this before and yet, it hasn't hindered us from taking a minute to think before we point a finger, lash out or drop a Facebook bomb.
Maybe trying to prove why people are wrong or stupid isn't helping. Maybe surrounding ourselves with likeminded people and venting about the others isn't as therapeutic as we would like to think - maybe it's just fueling negativity and hindering our ability to act on a solution together.
Rather than just finding likeminded people and venting about the others, maybe we should consider finding people whose opinions and beliefs differ from our own. Differences in beliefs and values result from differences in experiences. If we share those experiences, and listen to those experiences we can understand where those beliefs come from and maybe even find some common ground.
We know as parents that often children do as we do, rather than as we say. When my seven-year-old comes home and tells me about all of the things the other kids did that got them in trouble, I respond by reminding her that I asked what she did, not what others did.
The best way to get someone to see your perspective or to act the way you want them to, is to show them. Be the person you expect others to be. If you want people to stop being negative, then start being positive. 💡
I ran into someone recently that I have not seen in years. Someone who I occasionally connect with on social media. Someone who I strongly disagree with politically and find myself cringing at their Facebook posts. I also adore this person as a mother and a friend. I admire her as a hardworking, family-oriented, and genuinely good person. So, I said hello, exchanged pleasantries, remembered who she is as a person - and you know what? It felt good.
You can have your strong beliefs - and believe me, I have them. You can also have space in your heart for those who don't and for those whose beliefs differ from your own.
This may have still sounded a little bit like complaining, but what I am trying to do is to challenge us. I challenge us to share our experiences and seek differing ones. Share the reasons for our beliefs and be open to hearing the reasons of others.