Being a Love Strategist, it only seemed appropriate that I steer away from the usual dating and relationship advice this week and focus on the biggest love and relationship problem we are currently experiencing in our country. With a deeply divided nation, it seems like we are farther apart than ever. Today, we are all in need of some love.
Before you swear allegiance to your party, your leader, your values, and your beliefs, please hear me out. I’m speaking to you, Red. I’m speaking to you, Blue. I’m speaking to ALL of you. Maybe its time we become a little more purple.
This is the thing…I’ve always thought that I have a pretty open mind. I mean, politics were and are incredibly personal to me, and I have my views. However, I also make it a point to keep myself open before I judge.
However, this unprecedented election challenged most of us to our core. Personally speaking, my open mindedness to the “other side” INITIALLY disappeared. I felt hurt. I felt distrust. FEAR. ANGER. I just wanted to shut myself out to anyone on “the other side” because our differences felt so extreme. I still go into this place of shock and disbelief several times a day.
But, I quickly realized that this kind of fearful response was no different from the views of those I feared. We are all fearing the “other side” because of their differences, no matter which side we choose. We fear that which we don’t know or understand. If I were to allow my fearful brain to take over, I could eventually miss a beautiful lesson here…one that I believe we all need to learn in this situation.
The lesson is this: If we want to live in a world that is free of hate, racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination, we MUST learn to listen to each other from a place of compassion.
I’m not asking you to ADOPT a belief that is not your own. I’m simply asking you to listen deeply. Go beyond what you see on the surface, no matter how ugly it looks. We MUST try to understand each other so that we can get to the core of the anger, pain, and ugliness in this country.
We are in a world where we want to push our views on everyone, as the “right views”. No one is listening. We are just fearing and judging. People are pissed because they think that the “other side” is wrong, and they aren’t listening to what is “right”…and we each have our ideas of what is right.
Earlier in my career as a therapist, I worked at Social Services with clients who had sexually and physically abused children and adults. Some of my clients were incredibly intimidating, threatening, and liked to use their power to try to intimidate me. I worked with pedophiles…sociopaths…violent offenders…people who society wrote off as broken and dangerous.
At first glance, these clients always saw me as their enemy. I was the therapist from Social Services, and part of the organization who removed their children from their care. To get their children home again, we had the difficult task of building trust and working together where trust was inherently absent. It was a setup for failure from the beginning.
Initially, I struggled with how to connect with these clients. They scared me and initially I resorted to trying to use my power, as an inexperienced therapist and a very intimidated woman. This didn’t work. It only drove wedges between us. Eventually I tried a new approach. I leaned into my fear, instead of fighting against it. I stopped seeing them as abusive people, and instead thought of them as they were when they were infants, and children. (And let me clarify here…I did not see them as childish. I imagined what they were like as children…very different and important perspective).
Why did I do this? Because we are not born hating. We are not born angry or abusive. It is only the pain in our lives that turns us into this state of being. When I looked past the anger, the abuse, the attempts at power and control, and saw the innocence in these people, everything softened. I saw that they were hurt, abused, ignored, or mistreated as children. They were acting out the fear, pain, and hurt that had been done to them.
Did this excuse their behavior? Absolutely not. But it did allow me to connect with them from a place of compassion, which dissolved my fear. When my fear dissolved, my clients felt it, and they softened as well. I listened. They spoke. They felt seen. We all felt safe in that moment of heart centered connection. I created a space where they could express what needed to be expressed, and instead of an endless, unproductive power struggle, we connected and worked together to reach our goals. For many, I believe it was the first time anyone had ever listened to them, and it had the power to heal, if even for a moment.
The reason I share this story is because I believe that we all need to start listening to each other from a place of compassion. We need to soften our hearts with compassion, open our minds and ears, and start listening to each other. We won’t resolve our differences without this.
As a relationship coach and therapist, I can tell you that this is the core of many relationship problems. When two people stop really listening to each other, they stop seeing each other for who they really are. This creates distance, resentment, and eventually, the destruction of a relationship. This is no different whether we are talking about a couple or a country.
I want to believe that we can transcend our differences and let love and compassion bring us together, not only in relationships, but in our country and our world. I trust that this division in our world is temporary. I trust that love will reign and we will all be able to reach across party lines and explore our differences.
I trust that fear is just a misunderstanding, and what we really need is the courage to explore each other’s pain and to LISTEN to each other.
I refuse to live in a world where hate and fear rule me and prevent me from the gift of truly seeing and knowing another human being, in all of their depth, complexity, and uniqueness. We all deserve a chance to love and be loved.
If you’re afraid to reach across party lines I encourage you to open your heart and mind. This means a little less Blue, a little less Red, and a lot more Purple. The only way we can heal is if we start seeing each other for who we are, instead of seeing each other as the labels and politics who define us.