How do you talk with people you care about who have opposite opinions from you about social or political issues? The point is not to win debates, but to have civil discourse while caring for each other after the conversation. Do your best to steer the conversation to the middle ground, or at least their assumptions. When you feel stressed, aggravated, or anxious, don’t engage in a conversation just yet. Instead, take a deep breath and re-center yourself. You’ll find many more valuable strategies on how to care for people more than being right. Tune in!
- Nadene: @nadenetj – https://www.instagram.com/nadenetj/
- @groundnews: https://www.instagram.com/groundnews/
- The Righteous Mind: https://bookshop.org/a/17878/9780307455772
- Beyond Beliefs: https://bookshop.org/a/17878/9781590565803
- Speaking of Race: https://bookshop.org/a/17878/9780063098152
- We Need to Talk: https://bookshop.org/a/17878/9780062669018
- The Assertiveness Workbook: https://bookshop.org/a/17878/9781572242098
- It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok: https://bookshop.org/a/17878/9781622039074
Listen to the podcast here:
Is Being Right Overrated? How To Talk With People You Care About Who Have Opposite Opinions
Tools For Tough Conversations
I’m looking forward to this episode because I did a ton of preparation for it. I’m excited about doing this because I got a fantastic topic suggestion, which is something that I’ve touched upon and thought I had gotten into a lot more in a previous episode with Jason, but when I tried to find that episode that I remembered, I couldn’t find it. Either I imagined that I’ve already covered this topic or it was part of another episode and I’m going to link to a few that have components of this in case you want to keep reading.
Before I get into that, I want to take a moment to acknowledge you and thank you. I mentioned this in a newsletter for anyone who’s signed up for that. If you haven’t yet and you’re interested in getting weekly recaps of episodes and various things that I feel like sharing, I’m trying to reinvent the newsletter a bit because there’s a whole refresh. Also, without Jason being part of Wellevatr and the show anymore, I feel like it’s a chance to do things differently. He used to write the newsletters.
I’m trying to approach them in a way that brings me joy, but I also want to do them to bring readers and email readers a lot of joy. As a little teaser, I don’t know if I will have this done by the time this episode comes out because I’m having trouble getting motivated to finish it. I was tempted to announce it now to put the pressure on me, but I also have found that pressure doesn’t always work so well.
I want to put out a survey to get more feedback from you and other readers to make sure that you’re getting true value from this. I often wonder if the format works for people, if they’re enjoying it on a deep level. I realized that I didn’t fully finish my previous point, which was to thank you because there’s been a big increase in readership, which surprised me.
I said in the newsletter that I was a little afraid when I announced that Jason was leaving the show that readership would drop significantly, but not only has it not been noticeably different in terms of people leaving, it’s grown. I guess it is different somehow. The readership has skyrocketed. I’m excited and curious about that.
It’s exciting because I thrive off of positive feedback and also, I work with sponsors of the show. I want them to feel that there’s a lot of value here. As the community grows, that gives them more exposure and that helps monetize the show. I always want to make sure that any sponsorship is in alignment and I’ve lined up a couple of amazing sponsors for the show that I’m excited about, which helps fund it, especially with Jason departing the show.If you're interested in crypto, you're interested in wellness, financial support, and community. Click To Tweet
Now all of the finances fall on my shoulders and I’m not concerned about it, but if you’re ever interested in supporting more, simply reading this makes a massive difference. That’s why I wanted to thank you. Also, if you ever want to chip in financially, you can do that on Patreon. I’ve been trying to think of new ways to support people over there too.
Long story short, I will be putting out a survey. The reason why I feel like it was worth a teaser is not only to get you to sign up for the newsletter, where you’ll be sure to see it. I will mention it in future episodes, but I’m also planning on doing either a giveaway and/or perhaps giving away to everybody who completes the survey some of my creator coins. It is not something I’ve talked about very much, if at all, in the show.
I have something called the creator coin on this platform called Rally.io. If you want to go check it out, you can go to Rally.io and look up the $WELL coin. That is part of something that I had been experimenting with and getting excited about. One of the big reasons is because it’s a wonderful way for me to get community involvement financially.
Meaning, unlike a platform like Patreon where you’re just supporting me, Rally allows me to support you and the community to support each other. When you purchase this Rally creator coin, you are buying into a wellness economy that I created with the $WELL coin. You can get rewarded for it because the way Rally works is every single week, there’s an algorithm there, but it’s based on any growth that this little economy in the coin has achieved. They will reward you and every single member on the platform, so everybody will get some money.
I have a few friends on the platform now and some of them are doing so well that their members are getting hundreds of dollars every single week just because they’re supporting this platform. It sounds maybe a little strange, but if you’re interested in crypto, wellness, financial support and community, I’ll be talking about it more.
I wanted to bring that up because when I put out the survey, I want to offer that as a perk to give you some of this coin for free, which means you won’t have to put in any money. You can have a few of these coins, however many I decided to put out there, and you can have cryptocurrency. If you’re curious about that too and you haven’t yet looked into it, maybe that’ll be your gateway.
Enough about that for now, but if you’re curious about it, go check out Rally.io. They have some good information on there. There’s a number of amazing people and it does remind me a lot of Patreon, but I think the benefits ultimately outweigh. It’s possible. I may switch away from Patreon at some point. I’m not sure, but I’m planning on distributing some of this Rally coin to Patreon so you can get the best of both worlds.
That’s a little behind-the-scenes update. I’m encouraging you to sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss out on any of these announcements and especially opportunities to give me feedback so I can make this valuable to you. It’s also a wonderful way for you to let me know if there are specific topics that you’re interested in, like the person that submitted our topic for this episode.
I have tons of notes to reference an answer to this because I thought it was such an important subject matter and a very relatable one. This is something submitted by this woman named Nadene, who wrote me on my personal Instagram, which is @WhitLauritsen. I have both the Wellevatr Instagram and the Whit Lauritsen Instagram.
She asked me about how to talk to people you care about who have opposite opinions than you, specifically around social and political issues. She’s not thinking about how to have a winning debate, but how to have a civil discourse and still care about each other after the conversation. She said that she tries to steer the conversation to the middle ground or dispel their assumptions, but she doesn’t know if it’s enough. Her guess is that her intent would be to open their hearts to the thought that maybe their assumptions aren’t always correct and then she said, “Everyone seems so dug in and negative. It all seems so unhealthy and fruitless.”
First of all, thank you, Nadene, for sharing this with me in so much detail and giving me a juicy subject matter to get into. Now, as I mentioned, there are some episodes that have touched upon this. One of them is mostly around how I can relate. I was reflecting on situations that I’ve been in, which have been many.
Different Opinions About COVID
One that came immediately to mind was feeling uncomfortable at times around people who have very different opinions about COVID. Jason and I did an episode on this called The Lingering Emotional Toll of the Pandemic. We released this in August of 2021. I talked a little bit about how I was nervous about seeing some family members who I was anticipating would have very different feelings about COVID.
The reason I was nervous was not so much about the differences but about my safety. I am very conservative when it comes to COVID, even though I’m a very liberal person. I guess that often goes hand in hand these days, but I want to protect my body. I don’t take a lot of risks when it comes to COVID and I feel uncomfortable around people who are a little bit more lenient and comfortable.
It’s interesting because I feel fine with how they want to move about their lives based on their belief systems, choices, and information, but I don’t want it to impact me negatively. I think that’s a big part of this, especially in politics, because many of the notions we have around something like COVID seem to be driven by political belief systems. It is fascinating when you bring health into the mix with politics.
Anyways, if you want to hear me talk about that experience before I saw my family member, you can check out that episode. I will say now, many months down the line, it turned out that I was right in my assumptions in some ways about my family members but not in other ways and I was a bit surprised. Overall, my family members seem to be very accepting of me, even if they didn’t fully agree. They were mindful, I should say.
When I visited them, I couldn’t remember exactly where I was with masks at the time. I think back in August or September 2021, things were feeling more comfortable. When I saw them, it was mostly outside and it was at one of those points where I thought that I’d not wear a mask and we’d be okay or they seem fine, health-wise.
My feelings about COVID have fluctuated a lot. Back then, I felt fairly comfortable doing what we did with each other and they didn’t bring it up. We didn’t talk about politics and COVID, but there was this one moment where we went to a restaurant and we’re going to the outdoor patio. We had to walk through the restaurant to get there and I was wearing my mask inside. One of my family members turned to me and goes, “You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to wear that. That’s silly,” or something like that. I ignored this family member and kept it on because that was what felt comfortable for me.
That was the worst of all situations that I was in. The way that I reacted to it was to stay very calm and respect my own boundaries. Even though this person was trying to enforce their beliefs onto me, I got into a state of non-reaction. I’m trying to let it go, dissipate and it did. It didn’t come up again and luckily, we were able to move through it quickly.Just because you believe something doesn't mean it's the right thing. Click To Tweet
That was the experience I had about these opposite opinions in a very light way. I have some wonderful information that I’ve learned from a number of different books and sources. Before I get into that, one resource that I don’t have a quote around, but I found helpful in a lot of different ways, is called Ground News. I follow them on Instagram and they are a news comparison platform. That’s non-partisan and it’s all about fighting media bias. It’s about being fully informed and with as little bias as possible.
This was recommended to me by someone, but I thought it was such a wonderful resource because it’s helping us look at things from different perspectives, especially when it comes to the news. Especially in the US, the news tends to be biased. It depends on which media publication you’re reading, listening and watching.
Certainly, I’m biased too. By the way, I’m going to bring to this conversation or this discussion, even though it’s one side it is since I’m the only one talking at this moment. What I’m sharing is based on my viewpoints, knowledge, education and experience. I think it’s important to remind each other that because I believe something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing and that’s a huge part of this whole conversation.
I want to begin with some quotes from this book called The Righteous Mind. I’ve referenced this in a number of episodes. It is, to me, an eye-opening book because the subtitle is, Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion. Nadene and anyone else who’s interested in navigating opposite opinions about social and political issues, I recommend that book. I loved the way that it was laid out.
I can’t remember if I finished it, but I read a huge chunk of it. It helps me understand some historical and psychological contexts. It was very well written. It’s a bit dense and that’s probably why I didn’t finish it, but here are some things that I thought applied. Number one, early humans developed the ability to unite in order to shame, ostracize or kill anyone whose behavior threatened or simply annoyed the rest of the group.
I found that helpful because it reminds me that a lot of our behavior is not superficial. It goes way back in history in terms of how we’ve been raised and how humanity has developed? These are deep things here and they’re there to protect us. A lot of our human behavior was formed because we wanted to survive. I think when we understand the deeper reasons behind why we do things and other people do things, it can add a layer of ease. It can make it less personal.
Also, see some of the issues in it because coming together to kill someone is not something a lot of us want to do these days. We do still shame each other a lot and this comes up when we’re having opposite opinions about social and political issues and ostracizing too. Shame in itself is a way that we ostracize people or the way that we try to ostracize them. At the root, if we’re feeling threatened by them or simply annoyed, it’s a fascinating thing to ponder.
Another point in the righteous mind is that skilled arguers are not after the truth but after arguments supporting their views and that is also important to consider, especially when you get yourself in a tense discussion with somebody else who doesn’t agree with you. You can ask yourself, “Are both of you just trying to argue for the sake of your viewpoint but not the truth? Is there a truth?”
This is something that The Righteous Mind gets into a lot of the books I’m going to reference here. I’m somebody who tends to see things in the gray area. I try not to get into these black and white perspectives because I think there’s truth on both sides. That’s why I’m trying to practice not arguing to support my view, but I catch myself doing it, especially in casual ways. It’s moments where I’ll feel defensive and I feel like I need to back up a feeling or a viewpoint, but for me, I’m very driven by truth or facts.
Another thing you’ve probably noticed about me, I like doing research and research is comforting to me because I’m trying to figure out what the truth is and look beyond my biases, but that’s tough. The last quote I wanted to share from The Righteous Mind is, “To start by assuming that conservatives are just as sincere as liberals.” You can use something called the Moral Foundations Theory to understand the moral matrices of both sides.
I don’t remember what that point was about, but I think it’s important that when you’re getting into this political viewpoint that both sides are probably sincere and confident in how they’re feeling. We assume that versus thinking, “They’re here to say something that goes against what I believe.” One of the big points in The Righteous Mind book is that it’s a complicated thing and belief systems are developed over years, lifetimes and as I said with history, family and education. There are so many factors that go into it.
For us to believe that our viewpoint is better than theirs or right or more in the truth is not an effective way to communicate and that’s something that I pulled up this other book that I want to reference called Beyond Beliefs. This book by Melanie Joy is mainly about veganism, and it’s a fantastic read if you’re vegan or vegetarian, like I am, because it gives you a lot of perspective and tools for having conversations with people who live differently and eat differently than you. That is something that a lot of vegans and vegetarians struggle with, but there were a lot of points in that book that can apply to any type of opposing belief system.
The first quote in that is to respect the person beneath the behavior. I love this and this is a thread throughout the book because sometimes, when we get caught up in our difference of opinions, we forget about who this human being is. We can easily lose our respect for someone, but there’s often a difference between who they are at the core and their behavior.
It’s not always the case, but just because somebody is saying or doing something in a moment doesn’t mean that that’s a full picture of who they are. This book gives you a lot of different tools for how to respect someone, even if their behavior goes completely against your belief system. Another great point in that book is that resilient relationships are built on security and connection. We feel secure when we trust the other to keep us safe and we feel connected when we feel understood, valued and nourished.Respect the person beneath the behavior. Click To Tweet
That goes back to this idea of respect, which is, can you create a safe place to have a hard discussion together? Can you do this from a place of understanding, which is something else that’s going to come up in a number of the quotes I’ll read? Can you value someone? Can you find where you align? Is there a way that you can nourish them in their communication style while you’re speaking to them? That will create a resilient relationship that can work through and weather these tough times. This is especially important with friends, family members, loved ones or anyone you want to keep in your life despite their opposing views.
Melanie also says, “Compassionate witnessing is the key practice to creating connection. It entails paying attention and listening with empathy, compassion and without judgment.” When we can passionately witness another, our goal is not to be right, win an argument, or even fix a problem. It is simply to understand the truth of the other’s experience.
I love that. That summarizes a lot of the advice and points in these resources I’m going to bring up now. It seems to be a thread through, which is the goal is not to be right. The goal is also not to fix it. Another point in that book is that every time we’re told that our feelings or experiences are wrong, we get the message that we don’t matter.
You can think about times in your life where you felt like someone disagreed with you, was trying to prove you wrong and maybe reflect on did that made you feel like you didn’t matter? Oftentimes, when we can connect to that experience, we can put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. Personally, when I’m having conversations, it’s important for me for that person to feel they matter. I don’t want to lose that relationship most times.
Even with a stranger, though, I want a stranger to feel they matter. I mentioned this in an episode about kindness and how being kind to another person, regardless of your relationship with them, goes such a long way. I think every human being wants to feel like they matter. Can you speak to each other in a way that isn’t trying to prove them wrong?
Lastly, from Beyond Beliefs, it is vital to have a community of like-minded others, no matter how small. Every 1 or 2 people who share your view can make a tremendous difference to your resilience. Living in a culture, we may feel chronically misunderstood and offended. It takes a physiological and emotional toll that can leave you feeling isolated and alone. Knowing that others understand and share your beliefs can be extremely empowering.
I felt like that was an important section to mention here is that sometimes when we have a difference in opinion with somebody, we’re left feeling very vulnerable. We may feel like we’re misunderstood, question ourselves and are isolated. That’s why it’s also important to have a community around you of someone that you can turn to and discuss these things in that safe place of knowing that they understand you.
I think that we need both. We need to open ourselves up to conversations with people who live differently and think differently than us and create those spaces of very like-minded people. This is also a great opportunity for me to remind you of my private community that I’ve been developing for several years.
It’s called Beyond Measure. This is at the core of it. It is completely free at this moment. I’m trying to find a way to integrate it with Rally, as I mentioned. As of this recording, that’s further down the line. In early January 2022, it is free and I’m always going to figure out the finances so that it’s not cost prohibited.
I wanted to bring that up because the main benefit of Beyond Measure is people coming in and feeling connected to other people who are committed to giving them a safe place to express themselves, talk through things and relate to one another. In fact, we did a call and we were talking about finances, which can be a very vulnerable discussion. People share things in such beautiful ways and realize that they’re not alone while they’re sharing. Every time we have a conversation like that in that group, I feel deeply fulfilled and excited.
While we’re on this topic, I want to remind you that there are safe places like that. If you want to join Beyond Measure, all you have to do right now is send me a message. You can email me. You can direct message me on Instagram. Those are the top two ways people get in touch. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter or wherever else.
Whatever’s easy for you to reach out to me, all you have to do is say, “I’m interested in Beyond Measure.” I’ll send you an invite. You can come and check it out and see if it’s a community fit for you. If not, I hope that you do seek out a community of like-minded people so that you get the best of both worlds to broaden your safety net and bubble. Don’t get stuck in this bubble of like-minded people, but have a place where you can recover and build your resilience. That’s equally as important to practice your communication skills.
Speaking of different viewpoints, there is this wonderful author that you may have heard me mention before named Celeste Headlee. She’s been a guest on the show and she has written a number of books that I love. Her newest book is called Speaking of Race. I went to that book because race is often a hard topic for people to discuss. People have a lot of different beliefs around that and approaches. There were some great points in that book that I thought would apply to this conversation.
First of all, Celeste’s point is that every time we hear something that confirms our opinions, our brains get a little boost of dopamine. There are pros and cons to that. Number one is if you are in a safe place like Beyond Measure, it’s great if you want to get that hit of dopamine. You know that you’re in a like-minded community when you discuss things and share things that you agree with. It feels good. That’s why community often nourishes us so much.
That’s also important to keep in mind when you’re having conversations that are against your opinion that don’t confirm your opinion. You may not feel very good and maybe that’s because you are used to being confirmed and getting that dopamine hit. It touches upon this not only historical context to how we communicate with one another and how we feel about difference and opinion. Also, the biological workings of our own brains and other people too.
If you’re trying to figure out why is this someone committed to their opinion? Why are they fighting me? Why are they trying to shame me or prove me wrong? Why won’t they listen? Maybe it’s because you’re not confirming their opinion. They’re not getting that dopamine rush that they want. I just love that and am fascinated by the inner workings of the brain.
In speaking of race, Celeste also says, “You can disagree with someone strongly and yet have the conversation anyway. Debates have changed very few minds, but conversations have the power to change hearts.” If I remember, I’m going to share that quote again at the end of this episode because I feel like that’s a phenomenal takeaway. Having the conversation even if you disagree and knowing that it’s not about changing someone’s mind, but maybe changing their heart.
That’s an interesting thing too and it goes back to one of the quotes from earlier from Beyond Beliefs about respecting the person behind the behavior and separating their mind in what they’re thinking, and perhaps their behavior from their heart and soul, what makes them themselves. Sometimes, we combine the two so much that we can’t recognize the goodness in others. That reminds me of that experience I had with my family.You can disagree with someone strongly and yet have the conversation anyway. Click To Tweet
That experience went well with them because it was all heart-centered. We were so excited to see each other. I hadn’t seen this particular group of family members in many years. It was so good to spend time and experience things with them. I was in their part of the country and see where they live for the first time.
It nourished me on so many levels that I could put aside our differences. It was about their hearts, not about their minds in that sense. Another book of Celeste that I love and recommend for this subject matter, which is called We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter. Some tips in that book are to be curious, check your bias, show respect, stay the course and end well. That’s a good framework and formula for navigating these tough times.
I love that curiosity element because if we frame it, which is something I think Celeste gets into a lot and we need to talk that curiosity can shift how we feel in those tough conversations. She encourages you to ask questions too. She also says, “The goal of honest and respectful dialogue is to open our minds, not to change them.” It’s also what she said in speaking of race, but also opening up instead of changing them and this is where the curiosity comes in.
Celeste recommends that you resist the impulse to constantly decide whether you agree with everything someone says. Listening to someone doesn’t mean agreeing with them. The purpose of listening is to understand, not to endorse. That, to me, is so incredibly powerful because sometimes we’re afraid if we don’t defend ourselves and our beliefs and our viewpoints that we’re endorsing someone else. This is where I think it becomes complicated. I still want to dig in and better understand this.
I’m afraid sometimes if I don’t stick up for what I believe in, I won’t be a good advocate for what I believe in. Let’s say veganism, COVID or race, a lot of these tough conversations that can get people riled up. Sometimes I feel like I need to share facts, information or perspective, but ultimately I am trying to change somebody’s mind when I do that. Maybe that’s important, especially when it comes to race.
I’m a huge advocate for being anti-racist and being around people who seem to be racist or engaging in racist behavior. I feel like I need to correct them. Based on what I’ve read here, I’m not sure if that’s the best way of action. I think Celeste’s point is listening. That’s not about agreeing or endorsing. It’s listening to understand someone, not trying to change them.
She also says, “There is no belief so strong that it cannot be set aside temporarily in order to learn from someone who disagrees. Don’t worry, your beliefs will still be there when you’re done.” I love that phrasing because it taps into our own fears. Are we afraid that someone’s going to change us? Maybe we are not trying to change them, but we’re trying to defend and protect ourselves from being changed, but our beliefs are deeply rooted. I think Celeste’s point is your beliefs are not going to change. You’re setting it aside temporarily to learn.
Speaking of setting aside, she says, “All of the opinions, causes, beliefs and biases that come with our upsetting aside ourselves is one of the cornerstones of a great conversation. If you enter every conversation, assuming you have something to learn, you will never be disappointed.” Can you see why I loved Celeste’s work so much? I think she’s such a great writer. I find so much comfort in the way she phrases things. This framework puts me at ease. It inspires me to get into these uncomfortable, hard conversations. I want to learn. I enjoy it. This is where my own personal curiosity gets sparked for yourself, asking, “What do you have to learn?”
Even if you don’t think you have anything to learn? I think there’s so much ego in that like, “I already know what I believe,” or, “I already have done my own research.” What can you learn just from hearing this particular person talk about this? Imagine how they would feel if you dropped your defenses and listened or maybe ask some questions. Going back to Celeste’s framework for having a conversation that matters, “Be curious, check your bias, show respect, stay the course and end well.”
How can you use that framework for the next hard conversation that you have? Maybe write it down, look it over every now and then memorize it and practice it. Put yourself in a tough conversation simply to practice that and see how it goes. Speaking of entering in those tough conversations, it’s also helpful and in many ways important to be assertive because sometimes, if you’re a people pleaser, feeling uncomfortable or awkward, you may feel like the other person is overpowering you.
I read a book called The Assertiveness Workbook that had a lot of great tips on being more assertive. A couple that applies to this is, avoid wording your opinion as though there is no other way to see the issue. Yes, you can be assertive, but you can also be open. If anyone changes their mind, it should be for good reasons, not because you push them and they give in. That goes both ways.
You could be assertive by saying that to someone if they’re pushing you too much. You can say, “I hear you, but I don’t want you to try to change my mind.” Something like that. I don’t know. I’m making that up. Read The Assertiveness Workbook, there are a lot of good tips for how to phrase things to other people, but that could possibly work. Maybe just point out someone or ask them. What if you asked from a curious standpoint, are you trying to change my mind? Not on the defensive. What is your aim here and pushing me? They may believe that they can change your mind. Many people believe that.
That’s frustrating to me, especially when I do all this self-work. It’s tough for me to have conversations with people who have not seemingly worked on their conversation skills, who don’t seem to be good listeners, who want to dominate every conversation but then I can have compassion and recognize that I’m still learning. There have been plenty of times where I wasn’t a great listener. I maybe dominated the conversation or tried to change people, especially when it came to veganism. That’s why I love that Beyond Beliefs book. It was such an amazing way for me to shift how I talk to people about a plant-based diet and listen.
There are two other resources that I found helpful in the subject matter. One was related to Web 3.0. It is a term that people are using to refer to the shifts that we’re taking online and that’s usually an umbrella term for things like cryptocurrency, the blockchain, the metaverse and NFTs terms. If you’re not familiar with you will learn more. Web 3.0 is a personal passion of mine right now.
I’ve been exploring participation in this program called Kernel. It is a community-based education model for people who want to learn and develop Web 3.0. They had great training about complementary opposites and I took a few notes from him. One was that rather than using dualities, we could use the style of complementary opposite thinking to recognize that there is no good without evil, no attraction without repulsion, no North without South and no up without down.
That duality is important in those moments where you think, “I must be right.” “This is a good way,” or, “This person is completely opposite from me.” Maybe that’s important to have that opposite viewpoint. If you have a specific goal, you need something that complements it. Not necessarily as exactly like it or agrees with it. Food for thought.How can you respond most honestly, accurately, and lovingly? Click To Tweet
They could describe this as quantum thought, which is being able to contemplate both 0 and 1 simultaneously and the spectrum of probability between. This is not just about both, thinking or seeing, “Both sides of a debate.” It’s seeing both sides in the entire spectrum of possible states between, without grasping after certainty.
This lack of certainty humbles you and it’s precisely this humility coupled with wider perspectives of the total spectrum of possible outcomes, which can lead you to make more effective decisions that fall into the quantum way of living, the spectrum of probability between. You can see things with the sides, but maybe that in-between is the gray area that I was discussing before. That’s why I’m attracted to that because the more I let go of my certainty and my ego, the more I learn and evolve as a person and the more compassion I’ve cultivated.
The Kernel also said, “We cannot be sure what the effect of our actions will be. We can only cultivate an acute observational awareness, which will guide us towards making the right trade-offs.” That applies to the conversation, too, because it ties into the whole curiosity thing without being confident and an outcome like trying to change someone’s mind or persuade them.
We can observe. We can tap into our awareness and that curiosity and figure out where we might need to make some trade-offs. That’s part of the learning process of those conversations. Thinking consciously about trade-offs, as Kernel says, and developing the ability to hold many different probabilities in mind simultaneously without allowing personal bias to obscure your view of all possible futures allows you to pick the middle way more often than not.
Those who have positively changed the world did so because they learned how to negotiate complexity rather than post their own will on things. That’s powerful too. If you’re trying to make a positive difference, how can you practice negotiating these complex conversations versus trying to impose your will on another person? Lastly, Kernel asks, “How can you respond more honestly, accurately and lovingly?”
It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
The last resource I wanted to share is from this phenomenal book. Megan Devine is her name. She wrote a wonderful book called It’s Okay Not To Be Okay and that book is about navigating grief. A huge chunk of that book is about the challenging conversations that people have after grief on both sides. The person going through the grieving and the people that are witnessing and supporting to the best of their ability is this person going through grief. She talks about how hard it is to navigate grief with other people’s opinions.
She has a lot of great points. One, finding safety means to come together with open hearts and a willing curiosity about everything we experience like love, joy, optimism, fear, loss and heartbreak. When there is nothing we can’t answer with love and connection, we have safety that can’t be taken away by the external forces of the world. It won’t keep us from loss, but it will let us feel held and supported inside what can not be made right.
That ties into so much that I’ve shared now, this idea of opening our hearts and being curious about everything, all of the spectrums of life. I love this point. That’s a great point because perhaps we might want to believe that there is nothing we can answer with love and connection. She’s pointing out sometimes there are these moments when we feel like safety is being taken away by external forces. It’s the desire to feel held and supported inside these situations that cannot be made.
To me, that’s two things. One is coming together in a safe place with those open hearts and curiosity in order to feel held and supported, despite not being able to change someone. Also, finding those safe, like-minded communities is to feel safe and supported when perhaps other environments don’t make you feel that way. When you’re coming away from a tough time, having a place that you can go to nourish yourself and rebuild, I think both are very important.
Megan also says the real cutting edge of growth and development is in hurting with each other. It’s in companionship, not correction. This idea of correction has been one of the biggest themes of all of these resources and not trying to correct to change but to be there for each other in having that companionship. That’s the greatest takeaway. It’s okay to get uncomfortable, hurt, unpleasant and awkward
This is a big lesson I’ve learned when studying how to be anti-racist is not going to be easy and it’s not meant to be free of hurt and pain. It’s having somebody along for the ride with you. They might not necessarily agree with you, but you’re there together, working through it. That’s a beautiful thing. Megan says, “We can stop hiding from ourselves and hiding from each other in some misguided attempt to be safe. We can stop hiding what it is to be human. We can craft a world where you can say this hurts and have those words simply received without judgment or defense. We can clean out the backlog of pain that keeps us trapped in shallow relationships and cycles of disconnection. We can stop making the other, other, and instead protect and support each other as family.” That’s powerful.
I feel like I could end the show right there, but I have a few more quotes to share. I love that. It’s the first time I’ve read this out loud and it resonates with me. Megan says, “If we are going to live here, get through this together, ‘Get through it at all,’ we need to start being more comfortable with pain. We have to let it go all the way through us, without looking for reasons, outcomes or placing blame. We have to stop otherizing with each other as a word against loss. We have to let the knowledge of our tenuous, fleeting, beautiful existence be a real part of our lives, not some story that only happens to other people.”
It’s so good getting through this together, that companionship, not otherizing, which for me is taking sides, separating ourselves this division. We have so much of that. It pains me all this division we have as human beings. Maybe that’s part of the human experience, though and going back to the Kernel statement about recognizing that there’s no good without evil, no traction without repulsion, no up without down. We need both. Perhaps it’s not about looking at it as bad or good, right or wrong, on this side or that side. It’s just is. That’s part of human life. Maybe that’s comforting and acceptance is so key here.
Two more quotes from Megan and two more quotes before I wrap this up, “A calm mind and a well-rested body are your best chance at assessing the situation and responding with skill, relentless self-interrogation, fault finding and shame will not get you there.” That’s interesting, especially that self-interrogation side.When you feel stressed, aggravated, or anxious, take a deep breath and re-center yourself. Click To Tweet
I feel like I need to dig in to better understand this, but releasing this fault-finding and shame that often comes up in conversations. Knowing that it’s not helping move things forward. Also, prioritizing the fact that we need to find ways for ourselves to be calm, like that moment that I shared with my family member who shamed me for wearing a mask at the restaurant.
I was in a very calm state, which helped me get through that moment. I didn’t feel defensive. I felt uncomfortable, to be honest. It’s not pleasant for me to have someone publicly shame me as this person did, but I do remember feeling calm enough and well-rested to let it go and respond with skill, as Megan says, and that plays a big role.
Many of us have been in situations where we’re tired and we don’t feel calm. We feel stressed, aggravated, anxious. That’s not a good time to have a conversation if you can avoid it. If you can catch yourself finding fault, placing shame or blame on someone, see if you can take a deep breath, re-center yourself and either revisit the conversation later or take that breath and acknowledge it.
That’s another big skill that’s not outlined here that sometimes we catch ourselves in the middle of doing something that’s not benefiting. That’s where we learn and that can be very humbling if we can take a moment, apologize and acknowledge it. Maybe that helps the other person learn too. There’s nothing wrong with doing this imperfectly. All of this is learning.
One last quote from Megan, “We are such an opinion-giving culture. It can be hard to remember that each person is an expert in their own life. Other people may have insight, yes, but the right to claim the meaning of your life belongs solely to you.” That’s an interesting thing in a lot of ways. It ties back into people’s hearts versus their minds, into all the experiences, education and lessons that made you who you are right now and made the person that you’re in that conversation with who they are.
Everybody has the expertise in their own lives and viewpoints. We can take other people’s insights but knowing that the right to claim the meaning of your life belongs solely to you. I can even see the duality in that because, as I said earlier, “It’s tough when you’re talking about big issues like politics, society, oppression and all of these things that we’re going through and we can fight up against health.” These are sensitive tough subjects that people get very fired up about.
Maybe there is an answer, truth, right and wrong, but its meaning is unique to each of us, the reasoning. This is complex and I shared a lot of different quotes and resources, but I still don’t feel like I have it all figured out. That’s a great thing because it gives me an opportunity to practice and learn. It gives me something to look forward to and continue to better understand all of this.
It’s humbling on that side alone and I would love to hear from you. What have you learned in these tough times? How have you navigated this? Do you have a perspective that you’d like to share with Nadene, who wants to learn how to not have a winning debate but how to have a civil discourse and still care about each other?
The resources that I’ve shared now give a lot of different but also similar advice. There is a lot to learn here. Nadene, I hope it helps you, but I’m curious about what you would say to this for everyone else who isn’t Nadene who doesn’t have the same question. I wish that we were having an open dialogue.
This is another good opportunity to encourage you to truly approach me about Beyond Measure. What I love about Beyond Measure is it is not about me. I organize it and I host it, but ultimately Beyond Measure is a circle. It is a true community and everyone there is equal. It’s not about a one-sided conversation. It’s a circular conversation. Yes, we are like-minded and we are often in agreement with each other, but it’s a supportive space where we can share and ask questions like this, discuss it, offer up resources and listen like this said.
I would love to have you as part of that. If only to have one conversation with you and better understand your perspectives, experiences and beliefs, I am very curious about that. I would love to learn from you too and for other people to learn from you, which is the whole core of Beyond Measure. If you want to check that out, send me a message, email, DM on social media if you’re on there.
The other cool thing about beyond measure is that I wanted to create a place of social media because more people seem to be closing down their Facebook and Instagram accounts. They’re not feeling interested in that and some members have joined Beyond Measure just as a place to have a community outside of that.
I imagine if you’re reading, you can at least email me. My email is easy to find on Wellevatr.com, along with all the resources here. I wanted to add one other resource since a question about politics inspired this episode. There’s a lovely episode specifically about spirituality and politics. It’s this, to me, a peaceful approach to politics that’s with guest Ben Decker. The episode is on How Spirituality and Politics Shape Society.
Ben Decker is a wonderful human being who had a lot to share about his own experiences in the spiritual community, teaching and practices, and working in politics. It’s lovely. Go check that out if you’re curious and thank you so much for reading. I will be back with another guest episode. Hopefully, one that has lots of different perspectives for all of us to learn from.
If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, you can do that Wellevatr.com. I’m working on the website. If you have any trouble doing that, let me know because I have a bunch of different configurations to do. If you have trouble with anything, send me an email, or as I said, if you’re on social media, send me a direct message. I’ll get it all figured out. I love hearing from you. I want to hear your topics, opinions and be more connected to you and your life because I value you beyond your readership. Thanks again. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, I’m wishing you all the very best with your own journey through all of this.
- $WELL coin
- The Lingering Emotional Toll of the Pandemic – past episode
- The Righteous Mind
- Beyond Beliefs
- Episode – Are You Being Kind For The Right Reasons?
- Celeste Headlee – Past episode
- Speaking of Race
- We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter
- The Assertiveness Workbook
- It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
- Nadene – Instagram
- @WhitLauritsen – Instagram
- Wellevatr – Instagram
- Ground News
- Instagram – Ground News
- Facebook – Whitney Lauritsen
- Twitter – Whitney Lauritsen
- How Spirituality and Politics Shape Society – Past Episode
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the This Might Get Uncomfortable community today: