If you really think about it, the differences each of us has is something quite special; not only does it make life colorful, but it is also something that supports the pursuit of inner growth. Certainly, there are some characteristics and behaviors that can conflict with one’s own; but if these differences didn’t exist, would we be inclined to look further? Would growth happen if there wasn’t anything that struck us or that brought about a reaction within us?
The reason we’re brought to contemplate something is because of a reaction that takes place within us. That reaction can be a super happy feeling or a moment of frustration. When the reaction is pleasant we get the chance to explore this feeling and what we like so much about that situation or person. When the reaction is unpleasant on the other hand, we tend to wish the situation didn’t happen or to want to avoid having anything to do with that person.
While I’m not saying we should make unpleasant situations or people a part of our life, I do think we can change our focus to something that will help inner growth and minimize the unpleasant feeling (which ultimately brings nothing to us except for a bad feeling). We’ve already discussed unpleasant situations (challenges) and how to look at them in a way that makes them opportunities, here’s a link to one of the blogs I’m talking about: Transforming challenges into opportunities. When it comes to dealing with people though, I wanted to explore a different angle with you than what we’ve looked at so far.
It came to my attention while I was dealing with an unpleasant situation that by me keeping in my mind the characteristics I wasn’t really comfortable with; I was missing out on the opportunity to understand a different mindset, a different perspective. I also realized how if this type of person didn’t exist, I wouldn’t even be faced with the chance to see life from a different set of eyes. So, as the conversation continued I shifted my focus to that of one who simply listened, observed, and absorbed.
Thanks to shifting my focus away from my “dislikes”, not only did the words this person was saying not affect me negatively, but I also started asking more questions to understand their perspective better. When I walked away from this conversation, I wasn’t changed in my way of thinking, but I now saw an entirely different perspective that I would’ve never seen on my own since my way of thinking was (is) so different from this person.
That’s not to say I’d love to hang out with this person endlessly, but thanks to them I have an added look at how someone can interpret specific actions and situations, which can help me to be a better communicator and human. This type of takeaway allows anyone to empathize more with another human being. It also gives you an added perspective to the world around you.
If you find yourself focusing on all the things you don’t like about a person, try to stop yourself and redirect your focus to listening, observing and absorbing. This focus will allow you to learn something new instead of you having to sit through a conversation feeling all upset. You probably won’t see that person ever again or very little, but thanks to your redirected focus, and thanks to that person being so different from you, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the world in a way you won’t ever see it.
How do you pursue inner growth thanks to people who are different from you?