Seek to Understand, Not to Be Understood
Apr 23, 2018
I am always learning, always growing in peace. In any difficult situation, in any sort of conflict with another, I am reminded of this bumper sticker I have: There is no way to peace, peace is the way. Sometimes, I wish that little sticker would just hover above the person's head who I am struggling to make peace with, to remind me of this way of being! It's not always easy to be cool-headed in the face of conflict, is it? But, when you're out there just living life, just doing your thing, there are people you will piss off at some point, and they will make sure you know just how much you have affronted them, and quite possibly not in the most peaceful of ways.
And usually, in our modern day culture, the common response to such a confrontation is to think that somehow they are the a**hole for this or that or the other thing, and that you somehow feel justified in feeling angry right back at them. Isn't that amazing? But from my own experience of this phenomenon, and in observing it in others, I have not seen this kind of thought process (or the words or actions taken thereof) lead to peace.
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind." -author unknown
What are we all really looking for in any of these situations? Whether we are the affronted or the affrontee, we want to feel heard, right? We want to feel seen. We want to be understood. Unfortunately, these things we want (and downright deserve!) cannot be ourmain focus when we are caught up in some sort of drama, if we are truly seeking resolution.
Seek to understand, not to be understood... This is a line I've seen floating around the past several months, and I've been meditating on it often. If we spend all our time and energy seeking to be understood, seeking to be seen and heard, then how in the world will we ever be able to hear and see and understand the "other"? We must seek to understand so we can begin to resolve our issues and create more intimacy and connection. Peace begins with you, right? So, don't wait for the other person to do it, just start doing it. You'll be amazed at the results. Practice curiosity and ask questions. Legitimately entertain their ideas and thoughts on the matter. No one has to be right or wrong--you don't even have to agree!--but you do need to actually listen. This practice opens up our worldview, in our closest relationships and in our interactions with complete strangers who have completely different systems of belief in place than we do. This practice dissolves division, and creates a container for mutual understanding and respect. It creates an atmosphere for LOVE.
Only one person has to implement this shift in perspective to make a huge difference. And if both parties are operating from this perspective, well then, by Goddess you are winning!
Today's writing was inspired by a piece from my Minishka Collection called Falcon Victorious. I could have written on a number of different topics this piece conjures up for me, but today, it was about standing up for peace. The falcon gives us that courage, that clarity of vision and broad perspective, to see the bigger picture, and act from that place.
Click HERE to order a copy, or just to see the entire Minishka Collection.
Have you found yourself in a really difficult conversation lately with someone you love where you felt more disconnection rather than connection afterwards? Try re-visiting the conversation with them again when you are both not so heated, and share this quote, seek to understand, not to be understood (or this whole article), in hopes that you can both speak with that in mind. Hopefully, this exercise will help you forge new bonds and ways of relating that come from a place of more curiosity and wonder, and maybe even some laughter.