Standing in the Life of Another

When emotions are running high, and there is a lot of back and forth debate, and triggering, and reacting, and vitriol, and defensiveness, and arguing, and snide comments, and spite and judgment disguised as righteousness or intellectual superiority — what is being missed? What are we failing to do?

When we’re reacting to a discussion / a debate about an issue, and we feel like there’s something wrong or unfair or hypocritical about what the other is saying — and we feel defensive because we feel we are being unfairly labeled or viewed – what is this showing us about our relationship to the issue?

Our experience is showing us that we are not yet practically equal to the issue. We are less than the issue because we don’t see all of the dimensions of the issue. We only see part of it – or think we do – and we’ve in some way defined ourselves according to the parts that we do understand – or believe we understand. And so we are fighting for our self definition — we are fighting to not feel invalidated. But that has nothing to do with the actual issue. That’s simply our own self created self definition survival game. As long as we’re playing that game – we’re going to judge and blame others so that we can keep validating our self definition. And that begs the question – is that really who you are? Some self definitions you created around some opinions you have about a topic? Sounds pretty limited.

We have to decide if we are really, genuinely interested in understanding the issue. We have to decide if we are really interested in understanding and seeing where the other is coming from. We have to decide if we are interested in placing ourselves in their position, in their life. We have to decide if we are interested in seeing them as our equal, not our enemy — and walk through their life, their experience, their circumstance, to try and see how they’ve arrived at their current experience and view. We have to decide if we are willing to genuinely, unconditionally, stand in their life and ask ourselves “who would I be?” “What would I experience?” “How would I view myself, others, and my world?” What would my perceptions and interpretations of my world actually be?”

We can do this — we can stand in another’s shoes, in their life, in their experience. That ability, that action is available to us. But we have to decide – no matter what the issue SEEMS or FEELS like it is — if we are willing to suspend our own experience, and unconditionally place ourselves in the other’s position. And that will take some time, some effort, some work, some research, some writing, some self reflection, some self honesty, and we have to ask ourselves some important questions. We have to decide if we are willing to, and interested in stopping the momentum of our emotional / intellectual / defensive energy, and for the sake of understanding — ASSUME the other may be RIGHT and we ourselves may be wrong. We have to ask ourselves, “what do I have to lose by doing this? “What am I afraid will happen?” “What do I really have to lose by giving up my point of view, and standing in the life of another?”

We have to be willing to ask ourselves – What kind of relationship do I want to have towards this issue and the others involved? What is more important? Me proving that my current point of view and world view is right? Or me understanding another to the point where I no longer react to them? Do I want to see others as my enemy? Or do I want to find Equality with them?

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