Heading into the holiday season it feels like a good time to look at how we can be kind to each other, honor each other, and get along more easily. As I’ve read social media posts and listened to conversations, it is difficult to miss the divisiveness that lives amongst us. Division within communities, within families, and within ourselves. In some cases, the division reflects diametrically opposed viewpoints seemingly impossible to overcome.

To create some perspective around how to manage this dynamic, consider some ways that divisiveness evolves naturally. We:

  • Forget that just because we choose something (i.e. lifestyle, food choices), doesn’t mean others have to agree with or understand our choice
  • Focus in on a topic and expect that others will see it in the same way we do, overlooking the fact we each bring different perspectives from our upbringing, religion, race, etc
  • Develop a myopic view of the world focusing in on only one issue that concerns us and become like a dog with a bone refusing to let go of that singular view
  • Avoid conversations because they end in arguments instead of asking questions or looking at ways to understand our differences
  • Prioritize issues differently but feel using “any means” to get what we want is OK – regardless of how it affects others – and some even default to violent rhetoric or action to get their way.
  • Get caught on a catch phrase without understanding the truth or meaning underneath it
  • Say we believe in peoples’ rights but make choices that violate them
  • Feel we treat people with respect, yet violate their boundaries, minimize their successes, and dump them when something or someone new comes along

During this holiday season, what might happen if we:

  • Ask someone about what drives their choices, and listen to their replies from a place of curiousity
  • Simply listen to someone else without any commentary or judgment
  • Look at what causes us to hold onto any righteous positions we might hold
  • Consider who and what triggers us and/or causes us to over-react
  • Be honest with ourselves about the way in which we treat others

In addition, how about looking at how our human needs and wants can highlight common ground and the thread of connection between us:

  • Food on the table
  • A roof over our head
  • Respectful relationships
  • Clean clothes
  • Good health
  • Making a contribution

For this holiday season, I invite you to consider ways that you can: be more understanding of another person’s viewpoint, listen without judgment, be honest about your obstinate opinions and reactive behaviors, and find the common ground between yourself and others.  Wishing you Happy Holidays.

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