“Love is saying, ‘I feel differently’ instead of ‘you’re wrong.'” -Unknown
I’ve written a lot of posts about compassion these past few years, challenging both myself and readers to be open-minded and see things from others’ points of view.
On almost every post, someone has commented that there are times when other people are, in fact, wrong–when the person who cut you off in traffic really is a jerk, not just having a bad day; when the friend who hurt you actually had cruel intentions, and didn’t just make an innocent mistake; or when the person who sees things differently is truly misinformed, as opposed to holding a varied, but different opinion.
I think we sometimes fear losing our sense of self and self-respect by giving other people too much leeway. If we give the benefit of the doubt one time too many times, we may start to feel like a door mat. Or if we consider other people’s perspectives too seriously, we may risk losing the beliefs that help us make sense of the world.
If we continually refrain from identifying people as right and wrong, we may find it challenging to hold onto the ideas that feel right to us. And that can be a scary thought, particularly when many of us wrap around our identities around our beliefs and understandings.
But maybe it doesn’t have to work this way. Maybe we can define the conduct we believe to be good and kind, without assuming we know people’s intentions, thereby labeling them right or wrong when they stumble. Maybe we can decide and honor what we believe and allow other people the same freedom, choosing not to be threatened if they see things differently.
Maybe loving ourselves is feeling secure without having to convince other people we’re right; and loving other people is wanting to understand instead of wanting to tell them they’re wrong.
Today if you feel tempted to point out the error of someone’s ways or beliefs, ask yourself: Would I rather argue and create pain, or agree to disagree and maintain peace?
Photo by the gardenbuzz