Healthy Relationships and Perspectives

I’ve been thinking a lot about a quote I’ve seen floating around various social media spaces lately: “Sometimes you have to make peace with the fact that you are the villain in someone else’s story, even if you thought you were doing the right thing. You don’t get to tell them how to narrate their experience.” Woah, that hits hard.

After sifting through my initial feelings on these sentences, I think this is true. Emotional maturity is not just about having depth and clarity about your own experience. Growth means having the capacity to know your own experience and hold space for others’ perspectives.

Being able to validate someone else’s experience does not necessarily mean that we agree with it. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of mental energy to be able to sit with that fact. When I’m upset with someone, the last thing I want to do is have empathy for what they are going through.

But—I’ve come to learn that while we can’t control our initial thoughts and reactions to situations, we don’t need to be beholden to them. We can create space between our internal thoughts and feelings and how we choose to react. This then gives us more room to hear and even empathize with the other person.

The older I get, the more I’m coming to realize that we’re all works in progress—and being able to recognize that humanness in one another is one of the healthiest things we can do. It helps to deescalate the more volatile feelings that may arise during disagreements. By acknowledging another’s perspective, we can have some understanding as to what motivated them to do what they did. This can then allow us to reframe some of the meaning we had been making out of the original altercation.

My hope for all of us is that we can harness our strength and bravery to have empathy for the people we disagree with. Just because someone doesn’t agree with our perspective doesn’t mean that what we want or what we feel is wrong; it just means that they view it differently. It shows great courage and maturity to be able to acknowledge this.

Here’s to having our own minds and perspectives in 2020 and allowing others to do the same.

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