Merriam-Webster defines Relate as having a connection between and/or having a relationship with, responding favorably to, to understand, and have sympathy for someone. When we talk about relating, we are describing the connection and relationship between people who respond favorably to one another because they have exercised understanding and offer sympathy, even for situations they may not understand or have experienced. Relating well demands of us the courage to see the best in unique opinions and experiences.
Acknowledgement of the relational connection creates understanding and sympathy for the unique experiences and realities of those around us.
So often we operate on islands of opinion. Those of similar opinions gather to reinforce the strengths of their groups’ opinions and denigrate the weaknesses of the other groups. Under this arrangement, the weaknesses of my own group are marginalized, and the strengths of the other group are negated, creating a war between the groups. Each side has been forced to hide their own weaknesses to mount a defense of their strengths. Is this not frustratingly frenetic?
What if there is a better way?
Instead of focusing on the weaknesses of another group or person, we instead focus on their strengths. Instead of lobbying attacks against the other’s opinions, customs, beliefs, etc., we can build a bridge of understanding by examining the strengths.
We were only looking at half of their world anyway, so shifting to the positive half shouldn’t be that hard, right? Wrong! It turns out that when we’ve allowed our brains to orient towards attacking weaknesses, we must work hard to re-orient our brains to notice strengths. The good news is that intentional efforts to notice the strengths of others will help the brain recognize other strengths, which, in turn, helps it recognize even more strengths.
Will you commit today, to begin re-orienting your brain? Begin by gently allowing yourself to look at your own groups’ weaknesses. Acknowledge the inconsistencies you see. If you can’t think of any weaknesses or inconsistencies, be open to where they might show themselves and keep an eye out as you move forward. Also, catch yourself in disparaging thoughts or words about other groups. Instead, notice what strengths they may bring. If you can’t think of anything, be open to where those strengths might lie, and begin to search for them. Relating is acknowledgement of the connection and relationship between us all, understanding and having sympathy for those who may have encountered different experiences, but still experience the same emotions of joy, sorrow, isolation, hope, fear, love, and tiredness. Will you begin re-orienting your brain toward relating?
Photo Credit: Helena Lopez, https://unsplash.com/@wildlittlethingsphoto
We are aware of the magnitude of this subject matter and the inadequate brevity of this post. For more, please reference our podcasts, our 1Community groups, or feel free to email us at Uniquelythesame@mission1race.org.
We also wish to address our inability to consider issues of sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse in our discussions on developing understanding and oneness. If you are in an abusive situation of any kind, we encourage you to seek professional and other help; and to realize that this content does not necessarily apply to your circumstances.