Have you ever desperately searched for the answer to something, and a question comes as the answer? Of course, there is no answer, but a question comes to you that provides more clarity, knowledge, or understanding of things.
In therapy, I am finding that I am content not finding the answer and solutions to all things, but I am the type that needs to think about things. In my last session, I asked a series of questions that were more like a rant. Why can’t life just tell us what’s right and what we need to do? Like, why does God leave us guessing or in an eternal longing to make sense of things? Why should we continue making hypotheses of our lives and the best of what life has to offer? Why can’t we figure all things out and possible outcomes before we experience them?
Those questions stemmed from a current dilemma I feel about romantic love. Some people believe that you enjoy romantic relationships with people who have more differences than similarities. Some people believe otherwise. Life doesn’t tell you one way or answer to many things, like how to know the kind of love that’s perfect for you. Today, while braiding my hair, a question came to me: am I driven by similarities or differences? This harmless question seemed unrelated to my dilemma on the surface, but it was like an aha!
Since graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I have engaged in opportunities to keep learning in the past year. While I have slowed down with book reading – I have been listening to opinion pieces, podcasts, commentaries, and even different questions on prevalent social issues.
One of the habits I have consciously cultivated is asking people for their perspectives of things. I am not necessarily asking for what they believe, think is true, or right, but simply how they see something that I am seeing. Whether the topic relates to conflict, religion, a social cause like feminism, or an imminent social issue like the canceling culture, as usual, I extend the grace that what people think can change and doesn’t always define who they are. I also allow for a safe space in the conversations where it is my responsibility to establish such an agreement. With these practices, rather than judging people for their thoughts, I thank them for their honesty and vulnerability.
Often, we think a thought is a finished process when it comes out of people’s mouths, and we forget that we simultaneously think as we talk even when we have had practice. So, when people say something, rather than reacting with judgment, I respond with “let’s discuss that,” or I ask critical questions as simple as “well, why do you think that?” I also sometimes paraphrase what they say to ensure that I understand them clearly and they have communicated effectively. In conversations and, most importantly, listening to others, I find that it is easy to fall into a space of judgment, and worse, this new cancel culture to conclude “you’re a bad person because you said x y and z that I disagree with.” It is not our fault; it’s just how our mind is wired to make instinctive conclusions for safety and compartmentalize things. However, we do better when we train our instincts, from thoughts to actions.
Perspectives are important and affect our relationship with the world, the conclusion of our lives, and connections with people who matter or matter less to us. I will share a couple of things that I am learning from this issue and where this started from.
More than half the time, we are not who we want to be for ourselves. There is always more that we want to change, fix, and become of and for ourselves and sometimes, for those we love.
There is always a way for us to be better and become, which is the importance and meaningfulness of life. Even those who live for "the now" linger on because there is a hope of formation, transformation, and maintenance at the least - granting themselves grace through the process.
So how come we become so entitled and unforgiving about someone else not being who we want them to be for us, let alone who they want to be for themselves? How come we can't grant the same grace we have for ourselves to others in making? How come we see ourselves with kindness and can't offer the same civility to someone else?