meaningofstrife

Seeing the best in life's challenges

Why Do You Care??

on April 7, 2015

Compared to 50 years ago, most of us have much more exposure to others who are “different” than we are. We have a greater ability to travel, we have a multitude of TV stations that show us people and places around the world, we have the internet and Google and social media.

So what is your perspective on those who are different? On those who look different? On those who have a different religion? On those who have a different belief system?

Do you want the freedom to have your own personal style, hold your own beliefs, build your own career, spend your free time in the manner you want, all this without someone else telling you that you are wrong and you should be doing something else? Do you want to be in charge of your own life without having to defend it?

I would guess that each of us wants our own personal freedom to decide what’s right for us.

After all, you are the only one who has lived your life and had your unique set of experiences. Only you know how you feel in any particular situation. Only you know what brings you joy and what makes you uncomfortable. Only you know what has led you to the decisions, beliefs, and mistakes that are yours alone.

So if we want that freedom for ourselves, why is it that we don’t want to give others that same freedom?

Do you find that you want everyone to be the same as you?

Do you come up with labels for people and decide that some labels are “good” and some labels are “bad”?

I run into this issue with my kids all the time. One gets totally annoyed at another for hanging out with a certain friend, not folding their clothes, sleeping too late, keeping a messy room, liking certain music, styling their hair the wrong way, what they are eating, the list goes on and on and on.

I ask them, “Why do you care?”

Now it’s one thing if one kid is imposing on another. For example, playing music too loud. Or not picking up in a bathroom that they share.

But there are plenty of times where there is no impact on the other person. The other person just doesn’t like whatever the offending thing is.

An example we are all familiar with is the opinions people have surrounding the lifestyles of LGBT persons, gay marriage, gender identity, etc. Many people still get wound up and want to label these people “wrong” and tell these people not to be who they are. WHY do they care?

This is really just an application of the Golden Rule. If you don’t want another person telling you what to do, then you can’t turn around and tell another person what they should do.

I call this reciprocity.

In a world where we increasingly have to interact with others who are different, honoring reciprocity is the key (IMHO) to everybody getting along.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be conflicts. It doesn’t mean people can’t disagree and express that. But we can respectfully agree to disagree.  And building our communication skills and getting comfortable with conflict resolution will be a big help.

This is where people get really attached to what they think is “right.” If someone strongly believes that their way is the right way, then the idea of allowing others to be different will be very difficult.

I must say that I do think it is a very good thing for an individual to spend time and think a lot about their own personal belief system and their own actions. Read, research, think, self-reflect, have good reasons for, and feel good about who you are and what you do.   But do this for YOU, not for everybody else.

There’s also the question of how to react to someone who is trying to impose their way on you. It’s the other side of reciprocity. A person sometimes needs to stand up for their own freedom to make their own choices, by not automatically following what someone else tells them to do. We need to allow others to say no and respect that.

It has to go both ways.

Next time you are offended or triggered by someone or tempted to think or say “they should”, ask yourself:

Why do you care??

.

  • Is that person telling you what to wear?
  • Is that person telling you what to believe?
  • Is that person telling you how you should live your life?

If not, if that person is going about their own business and not imposing on you, why do you feel the need to impose your opinions on them?

And when someone says no, or maybe quietly does their own thing (that is different from what you think they should do), maybe consider that they are different than you are. And allow them to be who they are.

I’ve formed these opinions in part because of a personal situation in which I reacted to someone doing something different that I did not expect.  I did not know everything about the situation.  I was caught off-guard and reacted.  Then communication broke down and the other party still thinks I am judging, when in fact I really don’t have an opinion and want that person to be doing what they want to do.  To complicate it further, however, the other person wants to impose on me by forcing a relationship with someone with whom I am very uncomfortable.  In this situation, the old way of dealing with it is to focus on who is right and who is wrong, and who should be doing what.  From my perspective, we are just following two different paths and that’s ok.

So I have done a lot of thinking about this since, and paid attention to developing my other relationships and working on communications.  What I have found is that when you have a relationship with someone, and you both give each other room to be who you are, then you can really share everything. You can get feedback from them, which is very different than what most of us are used to. Feedback is sharing observations and thoughts, without judgment or telling someone what they should do. The other person still honors your personal freedom to make your own decisions, and you can feel safe in the relationship.

Most of us are used to the old way of interacting, so this is not an easy transition. I know that I used to think I knew what was right for other people. I have learned to let that go and I will keep working on this. It’s especially difficult with your kids, because as parents we need to guide them and the amount of guidance they need is different for each kid and changes as they grow.  My priority is to allow them to be who they want to be and to equip them to interact with the world, to give them feedback (a lot), but to let them make their own decisions and follow their own path as they move into adulthood.  They might not always do things the way I would….but of course they don’t, because they are not me.  I love them for who they are, not who I want them to be.

As always, I don’t have anything figured out for anybody else. I am working on figuring it out for me. I share because I like feedback and discussion. (I have friends that read this stuff and we discuss in person.) Writing, for me, helps me organize my thoughts, and it’s really ok with me if no one ever sees this! If that’s the case, so be it! If no one agrees, then that’s information .

It’s all good.


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