“We find comfort among those who agree with us—growth among those who don’t.” ~Frank A. Clark
This post is for anyone who has ever disagreed with the people they love the most, to remind them that these disagreements do not have to lead to regret.
Indeed, they can lead to our deepest growth if we so choose.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Hi. My name is Sabrina, and despite my best intentions, I don’t always have the most harmonious conversations.
When it comes to my family, especially my parents, my ego struggles with second-guessing their words, choices, and actions, and in turn, second-guessing my own.
The truth is, I am no more “right” than they are; in fact, when it comes to making the best choice for oneself, I am a big believer in turning inward in one’s quest for answers.
Yet I can still get triggered when we don’t see eye to eye, and that’s how I knew this was an area where I had an opportunity to grow.
So I asked my higher self:
How can I balance lovingly hearing my parents out without necessarily agreeing with the content of their message?
And how can I bring loving awareness to the conversation, accepting with my heart while releasing the need to fully comprehend it in my head?
Here is the answer that I received.
1. Forgive first.
Start with yourself first, as holding onto guilt rarely serves us in life but can certainly keep us stuck. In fact, even if the conflict began with your words or actions, you are still worthy of forgiveness.
This might come easier when you remember your own humanity—our egos were built to judge, so when they get out of hand, it’s simply a matter of recognizing what’s happened and reigning them back in.
The next step is to forgive the person you’re in conflict with, whether it’s your parent, a close friend, or your significant other.
Of course, this might prove to be more difficult if the other person was especially critical, unloving, and unkind, but we can recognize that forgiveness does not mean agreement, and that the simple act of forgiving gives us freedom from the bondage of resentment.
So in essence, it’s really a self-preserving act to forgive, as it tunes us back into our own experience and taps us back into our power, despite the situation.
2. Look for the love.
There is always love, but there are times when it’s easier to see than others. Sometimes in order to find it, you have to peel off the layers of fear first.
In my case, one of the biggest triggered disagreements was around how to best take care of my body.
I am admittedly a bit of a hippie (okay, fine, I’m a big hippie), and I avoid chemical medications if at all possible, and vaccinations unless absolutely necessary.
My parents, on the other hand, are first in line for vaccinations, and are always staying up to date on the latest research when it comes to science’s advances in medicine.
So every time flu season rolled around, the debate would begin again.
First, I saw the fear—my own fears around what I believed vaccinations and medications would bring to my life (or rather, take from it).
But then I saw the love—the genuine love that my parents feel when they are truly concerned about my well-being and simply sharing from their own experience and knowledge.
By shining light on the intentions rather than the words, I was able to feel the connection without the need to judge whether I agreed with the content or not.
Perhaps in your conflict, the pain is so deep that you cannot see the love in the other person’s intentions.
In these cases, tap into the love within yourself instead. This could be as simple as recognizing that the very reason the words hurt you so deeply is because there is a strong current of love flowing underneath it all, from you to them (regardless if they’re reciprocating it).
By bringing the experience back home to yourself, you may even realize that there are other more empowering ways for you to tap into that love, giving yourself a clearer perspective on how you can change in the situation rather than trying to change the situation itself.
3. Open your mind.
In Buddhist practice, much is spoken about the “beginner’s mind”—an attitude of openness that eagerly seeks new ideas and perceives old ones with a fresh lens.
This curiosity serves me well in many areas of my life, and it was time I allowed it to serve me in the conversations I had with my parents.
I knew I would be bumping up against old engrained habits, so I embraced the practice of conscious intention setting before each conversation.
The shift looked something like this:
Prior to each conversation, I consciously set the intention to receive the words and exchange of energy with a loving and open mind.
And then by staying present and checking in with myself, I could allow myself to really get curious about what was being shared, as if it were being shared for the first time.
In doing so, I could truly learn something new, releasing any ideas around whether it was “right” or “wrong.”
4. Embrace the contrasts in the world.
After I had lovingly felt the connection and truly heard what my parents had to say, it was time for me to recognize whether or not I still disagreed.
If, after tuning into my own intuition, I still felt rooted in my original choice, then I had one more opportunity to nurture my own growth by recognizing their choice as a valid choice.
This means that I would forgo any judgment around it and see their idea as just another beautiful shade on the spectrum of possibilities.
Abraham-Hicks, originator of the Law of Attraction, speaks at great length around this idea of contrast, and how contrast in this world is what gives our own desires more energy. In other words, the more that we recognize what we don’t want, we can better tune into what we do want.
So with this in mind, it is now possible to not only accept the disagreements, but also embrace and give gratitude for them, as they stand to strengthen us in the direction of our highest desires.
5. Release responsibility for the growth of others.
This might be the most difficult one to follow, because, at the end of the day, we simply want peace amongst ourselves and those we love.
But as many of us have experienced, this peace cannot always be achieved, despite committing to all of the above.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and relationships where the other person is addicted to the drama of it all; it is in those situations that we need to tune in even more closely to our own experience, rather than the drama of our shared experience.
In these moments, the greatest act of love can come from owning our own peace, empowering the other person to seek their own growth, and remembering that the only peace and growth that we are truly responsible for resides in our own hearts—and ours alone.
Photo by cbowns