Several years ago, I was driving with a company that purchased pick-up trucks from southern Alberta and delivered them to a dealership in Montana. The long hours on the road allowed me lots of time to listen to audio books. I listened to many books, but one phrase in one book that stood out for me was “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” It was found in the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Steven R Covey. I was deeply immersed in the Mormon religion back then. Mr Covey might well cringe to see that I have traded my priestly duties, black suit and tie for a silk scarf, leggings and mascara; I am okay with that.
Yet, that quote stuck with me, and that life skill has proven to be useful and truly very effective throughout my life journey. Previously, I had to fight to be right. I was always one who needed to get my point across. I had to make others see things the way I saw them. I would talk and talk and talk trying to get them to hear me and make them understand, but for the most part, it just resulted in arguments, shouting, and at times even became physical. I was so angry then.
As I began to practice this life skill of seeking first to understand, I noticed the shouting and anger began to subside for me. By seeking to understand another’s position, all I was doing was allowing them to share their opinion. They would tell me all the reasons why they believed I was wrong, sick and bad for wanting to dress as I did. Then, at the end of simply listening quietly, I would say “That’s interesting, and I disagree, but thank you for saying”. I would smile and participate in the drama no longer. I needed to do nothing with their opinion.
I recall having a conversation with a Bishop in my home as he explained his point of view based on his beliefs about who and how I was. He went to great lengths to show me how I needed to change to fit into his idea of how I ‘should be’ for a while, then, I smiled and quietly said “I understand your position sir and I will not change who I am to please others. Your argument is with the One who created me this way, not with me, but I do appreciate the invitation to change; thank you for stopping by”. It wasn’t long after that I was no longer a part of that religion. Now I preach love and acceptance, first for self, then for others.
I listened long enough to understand his position, that my desire to dress pretty was not in alignment with his world view. Okay. Fair enough; I understand that, but I don’t have to agree with it.
Then, I expressed my position so that I too would be understood; I simply disagree with that opinion and I will not change who I am because I was created in this way and I love how I am created.
We parted ways without so much as a raised voice. He continues to follow his beliefs and I continue to follow mine.
I am married to an amazing cis woman who is a devout Catholic. I am not; yet, we live together in wonderful harmony because we do not need to do anything at all with one another’s beliefs. I don’t try to force her to conform to my way of thinking and she does not try to force me to see it her way.
We live in the same house, share our bed and give one another the room to “Be”, needing to do nothing with it.
Often, the drama in our lives is created by our need to make someone else see it our way. We don’t need to; we can go about our day simply being ourselves, side by side in the world without trying to force anything, yet quietly refusing to conform to their expectations. Gandhi, Mandela and many others have created global change in this way.
I take care of myself and do things like going to a public bathroom with a friend waiting outside the door. I don’t force my way into places where I know I am not welcomed.
By simply going on about my day, dressing as I choose, respectfully like most other girls, I am being no threat to anyone and that is seen each time I go out publicly. This summer, I went shopping at a local grocery store several times in my denim shorts and tank top, cute sandals make up and earrings. I was treated with respect.
This week try hitting the reset button by remembering that we do not need to force anyone to change their opinion, and we do not need to change our opinion either. We all have the right to be treated with respect and dignity because we are here on the planet together. Those who seek to control will fall by the wayside in time. Love always, eventually, rises above and the small minds that refuse to evolve go the way of the dinosaur. This I know for sure.
Thank you for reading beautiful souls and thank you for being exactly who you are!
Namaste ‘n huggles