As promised, though with a bit of a delay, we are picking up where we left off two weeks ago. I gave you the assignment of noticing yourself when faced with opinions, beliefs or attitudes that are different from our own. Just to recap the assignment, you were to notice what happened, what you thought, what you felt and what you did in a situation that would call for tolerance. If you didn’t do the assignment, think of something now. A time when someone you know did or said something you disagreed with. Got it? OK let’s move on.
What were your thoughts when this occurred? Did you think how stupid the person is? Some sort of shaming attitude toward them? That’s what it is, so I figure let’s just call a spade a spade. We often lump a person into a whole definition based on one action. I do this, I know from first hand experience. I’m thinking of a Facebook post I read in which a friend stated a belief of hers, a belief I do not agree with. My first thought was, “Oh, seriously! You have to swing so far to one side and tell your readers we’re nuts if we don’t agree.” What was your thought?
Next, what did you feel? What emotions did you notice? Emotions generally fall into four categories: anger, fear, sadness and joy. I felt anger. It was like I was being told I’m stupid and the emotion that followed was anger. I could feel the anger physically, too. It was in my face. My cheeks felt hot and my head had a lot of pressure in it.
What did you do? I felt the anger. I thought about the post. The friend had passion about the subject. It’s something important to her. Do I have to agree with her position? No, I don’t. Did I need to write a comment telling her I don’t agree. Not really. I didn’t see the point of it. I chose not to challenge her belief. Her belief does not affect me directly in any way. By not saying something, I was not shirking my responsibility for my own boundaries. This was simply a situation where one person expressed her thoughts about something and I didn’t agree. No point in starting a war over it, telling her I thought she was wrong. She came to her belief in her own journey and I want to honor that. Again, it doesn’t hurt me for her to have or express her belief. Sure, I got angry, but that’s because I saw the post as a bit of an attack. It wasn’t. It was just a passionate person sharing something she believes in.
What did you learn about tolerance in your own back yard from this exercise? I would love to know! Feel free to post a comment or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have specific situations that you want help with and wouldn’t mind me using them as an example, let me know that, too. I can change identifying information so it remains anonymous.