In your dynamic journey through life, especially as you embrace your “wisdom years” post-50, you’ll often encounter situations fraught with adversity. This adversity frequently originates from misunderstandings or misinformation about various viewpoints or beliefs.
It’s not uncommon to find yourself reacting based on assumptions rather than facts. However, you have a powerful tool at your disposal – the art of understanding and engaging with opposing viewpoints.
Let’s explore how embracing this approach can enhance your understanding of the world and reinforce your self-esteem and confidence.
Understanding Before Judging
Before you react, I would like you to step into the shoes of those with whom you disagree.
It could be a clash of political ideologies, religious beliefs, or cultural perspectives. It’s easy to form an opinion based on biases, but true empowerment and wisdom lie in seeking to understand. Habit 5 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey) states that we should “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” as a path to empathic communication.
It will require you to focus and pay close attention to the other person. Instead of listening to respond, listen to comprehend and understand. The attention helps you gain insight, which can lead you to clarity about what’s being shared by others that can lead to another side of the story,
The internet, libraries, and even conversations can be gateways to comprehending different viewpoints.
Exploring Unfamiliar Territory
Dare to venture into the unknown. The unknown can be a little scary, but exposing yourself to new opinions, skills, and experiences will pay off in big dividends.
Read materials, visit blogs, and engage in forums that you wouldn’t typically explore. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything you discover, but seeing and understanding unfamiliar information will broaden your horizons, making you a more well-rounded and informed individual.
Challenging Your Own Beliefs
Adopting the role of devil’s advocate is a powerful exercise.
Pose questions that someone with an opposing view might ask. This will require you to be at least somewhat knowledgeable about the opposing view and what principles are important in that viewpoint. More than simply the opposite of what you believe, perhaps a different viewpoint will give you a different view of what you believe to be true
This deepens your understanding and might provide a fresh perspective on your beliefs.
Sometimes, the motivations behind a viewpoint are as important as the viewpoint itself.
Whether fundraising for a cause or propagating a belief, understanding these motivations can arm you with the facts and truth necessary to engage in discussions or debates confidently.
Strong motivations aren’t necessarily TRUE. If you believe something false with all of your heart and soul, the motivation to defend that falsehood will be there, but finding the truth will empower you to set yourself free.
Freedom from falsehood diminishes the power that lies have to keep you bound and stop your progress.
Maintaining Respect and Dignity
It’s crucial to remember that resorting to name-calling or personal attacks diminishes our inherent worth and dignity.
When facts and respectful dialogue don’t sway the other party, sometimes the most powerful statement is to walk away gracefully. Resorting to disrespect and vitriol is the hallmark of someone who is losing the discussion (or argument) and who cannot find a way to win cleanly.
It’s very possible to have a determined discussion and disagree with someone without resorting to base attacks and ignorance. Factual disagreement leaves room for both parties to learn from each other, and if you have the strength to dig deeply into your reasons for disagreement, you may find that the opposing point of view has points you can understand, even if you disagree.
There is Wisdom in Diversity
The journey to understanding opposing viewpoints is not just about winning arguments; it’s a path to self-development and empowerment.
It strengthens your self-esteem, boosts your confidence, and equips you to live more dynamically and authentically. By embracing the approach of hearing and understanding, we enrich our lives and contribute to a more empathetic and understanding world.
Journaling prompts to Embrace Diversity and Opposing Viewpoints
Use one or more of these prompts to start or deepen your personal journaling practice. Give yourself time to think about what the prompt brings up for you and explore your feelings on paper. If you need a journal, click HERE to see our available journals.
- Could you reflect on a time when understanding someone’s perspective changed your view? Did it feel easy or hard? Did your efforts continue, or was it a one-shot occurrence?
- How can seeking to understand opposing views enhance your self-esteem?
- Describe a situation where empathy could have led to a better outcome.
- What biases might be holding you back from understanding others?
- How does embracing different viewpoints align with your values?
Affirmations to Enhance Your Embrace of Diversity and Opposing Viewpoints
Read the set of related affirmations below aloud. It’s important to your conscious and subconscious mind to hear the affirmations said in your own voice. Choose one or two of the affirmations from the set to start working with. You only need one or two affirmations, used consistently, to make a substantial change in your life.
Choose one affirmation that feels easy to you and choose another that generates resistance or disbelief. The idea is to practice extending your current self-imposed limits and encourage growth.
Say your chosen affirmation loud enough for your mind to hear your voice saying the words and take notice of how you feel as you begin and as you continue your practice. Repeat your chosen affirmation multiple times a day for at least 30 days and reinforce your affirmation by writing it in your journal.
You can change your life by beginning an affirmation practice – using one or two favorite affirmations over the course of 30 to 60 days can permanently change your mindset and your life.
- I am open to understanding perspectives different from my own.
- My strength lies in my ability to empathize and grow.
- I embrace diverse viewpoints to enrich my wisdom.
- Every day, I become more open-minded and understanding.
- My self-esteem grows as I appreciate the diversity of thoughts and cultures.