If friends lose friendships over politics, how can we expect a nation or counties to come together? It's not about completely agreeing with each other. We are humans with different experiences and opinions, and we came to experience those differences. So, can we value the differences without the judgment of I'm right, and you're wrong? I'm good, and you're bad? I care about people, and you don't? For centuries our country has played two sides against each other. During this election, it's the same ole story… different time and space.
Do we really want to change? If any part of you says "yes", then we invite you to create change for yourself, family, country, and the world by using a different paradigm. Cultivating divisions and then deeming one of them as "right" and one of them as "wrong" is a divisive practice that never results in unity. When you think you are creating a division to show the people in the "wrong" how to be "right", and believing that once they see how "wrong" their view was…and how "right" your view is, then they will all unify under the "right" side is a false paradigm that does not advance us forward. Find unity in accepting the differences. See the differences as a part of their unique-ness. Value the differences as these differences create depth and dimension to our lives, like the multi-colored picture that is painted with a wide range of hues.
Practice this with your friends and family. Listen to them, really listen. Underneath, you both want what is best for the country; you have different ideas of how this should be accomplished. The minute you feel a strong judgment for your side vs. their side, you have begun the division; and to create lasting solutions, we need collaborations instead of divisions. More importantly, we have to be willing to see the "other" as ourselves. Yes, even the things you believe are "wrong" with the other side are actually a reflection of you… something you are unwilling to see in yourself. Seeing this "unwanted" trait in another strengthens that trait within you, instead of supporting your connection to the "wanted" outcome.
Let's choose a few examples from regular life to understand this point.
Example #1: The Respect/Disrespect Division
Someone (a friend, or child, or neighbor) disrespectfully speaks to you. They say something that triggers you, and you respond with curt or angry response… "How dare you speak to me in that tone! I don't tolerate disrespect, and I deserve to be spoken to with respect!". At this moment, you believe you are defending your side, the "right" side, that others should respectfully interact with you. However, it is most likely that your curt or angry response (while defending your side) triggered the other person and their follow-on response was also curt or angry. In your desire to reinforce your right to be respected, the other person likely saw your response as disrespectful or unkind. The more you feel you are right, and you double down on your convictions, the more you argue with others, refuse to listen, and ultimately end up treating the other person with disrespect. You become the exact thing that you were fighting against!!! If you've ever had a 2-year-old, you've likely dealt with this same lesson. No one ever wins arguing with a two-year-old!!!
Example #2: The Sharing/Selfishness Division
Do you have siblings? Or have you watched younger children play together? At some point during playtime, one person will have a toy that the other person wants to use. Likely, the person doesn't want to stop playing with it and refuses to give the toy to the other person. The other person then says something like "you're supposed to share… you're being selfish" in an attempt to defend what they have been taught about sharing and selflessness, which happens to align with their desire to be the one playing with the toy right now. If the situation continues from this point, the child likely becomes adamant or more vocal about wanting to play with the toy, and the other child becomes more steadfast in not wanting to give up the toy. Sometimes this escalates into a war of emotions where each kid firmly stands their ground, which is an act of selfishness of the self. You see, each person is withdrawing their shared play and sharing of their selves with one another and have retreated into mentally separate camps that are now arguing with one another, sharing no common ground. They are thinking of only themselves. Sometimes this plays out physically as well where the person without the toy says, "Fine; if you won't let me play with that toy then I'm going to play somewhere else!"
This is also an act of selfishness where the person is physically removing themselves from the play area and the shared play. In either case, when the judgment was applied (that the person not sharing the toy was being selfish), the division happened. The person doing the judging began to enter into a selfish state the moment they judged. This judgement created a division that began separating themselves mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Our egos thrive and are strengthened by seeing the separateness in the other. If the other is wrong, then you are right, and the imbalance escalates from there. It may be easier to see how this plays out when you think of examples that involve children interacting or while observing others that aren't close to you. Still, the same thing is occurring in your life each day and is playing out largely across the United States in our political divide. How many of you have experienced something similar to example #3 below?
Example #3: The Presidential Candidate Supporter Divide
From the anti-Trump viewpoint
If your political position is anti-Trump, you may be saying to a friend, "I can't believe people support Trump! That guy is an idiot and an asshole, and I'm surprised we have survived this long under his presidency! There is no way he should be re-elected. Do you see how he treats women? Do you see how he does whatever he wants in the office while bypassing checks and balances?" While you thought you were talking to a sympathizer, you now find out in response that your friend is a Trump supporter. This person, who was moments ago a friend you thought you had a lot in common with, is now placed into a category that you have judged to be a large divide from who you are. Is this friend really that stupid? Is this friend really that sexist? That racist? That intolerant? That different from me? This friend is nothing like I thought they were! I don't think I can continue being friends with a Trump supporter; they are just too different from me, and I don't believe in any of the things they believe in. If I can show them what a bad person Trump is, maybe we have a chance, but otherwise, I'll have to stop hanging out with them.
From the pro-Trump viewpoint
If your political position is pro-Trump, you may be saying to a friend, "Trump, Trump, Trump! This election is going to be great! Look at all the things Trump accomplished in his first term, and he was only getting started! His second term is going to be epic with all that he is going to do! This country needed someone who wasn't a politician to take charge and make things happen finally! He is finally draining the swamp, and no one else has been able to do that!" While you thought you were talking to a sympathizer, you now find out in response that your friend is anti-Trump. This person, who was moments ago a friend that you thought you had a lot in common with, is now placed into a category that you have judged to be a large divide from who you are. Is this friend really that blind? Can't this friend see how Trump has made good on his promises? Doesn't this friend see how Trump has improved this country? Is this friend really one of those liberal nuts? Are they un-American? Do they believe we should all get a free ride with everything handed to them? Are they that different from the person I thought they were? I don't think I can continue being friends with someone is un-American; they are just too different from me, and I don't believe in their way of life. We just don't see eye-to-eye, so I'll have to stop hanging out with them.
In either viewpoint, the judgment and division just resulted in more division and the potential loss of a friendship. On a larger scale, the country has seen these divisions play out across the nation throughout Trump's presidency and into this next election. While we have the principle that we can be diverse in our collection of states, our counties, our cities, our communities, our home, and our self… we have the equally important principle that we can come together as a family, as a community, as a city, as a county, as a state, and as a nation to collectively create and uphold the American dream. The deep political divide we are currently experiencing is missing the "collective coming together" side of the coin. We continue to see our differences and apply judgments and create divides and then reinforce those divides and strengthen our resolve until we can no longer imagine a unified outcome… a unified outcome where we all work together collaboratively in respect of our differences instead of in judgment of them.
So how do we embrace our genius and create collaborative solutions? Since our country has gone round and round with you vs. me for centuries, it can't hurt to approach this from an entirely new mindset. one that embraces that our outer world is only a reflection of our inner world.
- First, step back and get some space from the topic or person. As Albert Einstein said, "You can't solve a problem with the same mindset that created it."
- Second, why does their viewpoint trigger you? Don't try to answer this logically; instead, go to the body and find out where you feel it.
- Third, recognize that this person, situation, or topic is a "messenger" for you. They are giving you a message. Are you ready to use the message (trigger) and heal the trigger inside of you? Your deep-seated beliefs and fears about scarcity, division, security, or the ability to show unconditional love maybe some of the underlying things that are arising. This trigger (even a political trigger) is here for you, not against you. Just in case you're reading this and thinking, "really?!?!?", yes.. it's true. The fact that the interaction or topic had an underlying emotional charge or trigger means that it is fueled by a belief to which you have applied judgment to create a right and a wrong side. Let's emphasize that by thinking about "Example #2: The Sharing/Selfishness Division". When you are the one who is in the situation, you are reactive and triggered. You are triggered by the other person's selfishness. The underlying belief may be one of lack, that there is "not enough". Or the underlying belief may be that you are being persecuted by the other person's actions, which is a challenge to your sense of safety. Or the underlying belief may be that you need things to make you happy which stems from not feeling whole and complete. Whatever the underlying belief, it is what is fueling the trigger. Now think about Example #2 when you are simply an observer and the situation is occurring between two kids that you don't have any relationship with. Things are different now because its no longer personal. If your deeply held belief is a huge driving force in your life, you are likely to still be triggered by simply observing the situation with the kids. It's very important to recognize these beliefs and work on them since they are a big part of co-creating your reality. If the belief is held a little more loosely, it's likely you can observe this situation with the kids without being triggered, as a neutral bystander. When this is the case, we can use this perspective of the neutral bystander (called the Observer) to work on the belief when you are in a neutral state, making it easier to do the work.
- Fourth, wherever you are feeling the emotion, allow yourself to feel and be with it. Let the feeling move thru your body. Give it the space and attention that it's asking for, without judgment.
- Fifth, get curious and ask yourself, "how has this trigger shown up in my life before?" For example, you may say, "I'm triggered because they don't care about people, and are wrong." If that's the case, they are the villain, and you are the victim, which energetically says I am small and powerless. You need to take a hard look at yourself, and ask, "where are you not caring?" Perhaps you care for others, but lack self-care. How does the voice in your head talk to you about you? Is it always caring? How do you care for yourself? Do you judge people that you don't think care about other people? Have you shown caring and kindness to them? Life is a mirror. Energetically, your thoughts, words, emotions, and actions are always being reflected in your reality. So, if you spot it, you got it!
This approach works at home with friends and family, works at the office with employees and customers, and it can work in the political arena. If you can sit with these triggers, feel them, not attach a story or judgment, you will discover their value, and the trigger will begin to diminish. From this new uncharged perspective, you will be creating your life from your present ideas and intentions instead of continually recreating from your past beliefs. With fresh eyes, you begin to really see the other person, maybe for the first time. Believe it or not, they will start to see you differently, too. They will feel the freedom of no longer being judged by you. Now an opening has been created for collaboration, new solutions, and ideas. Suddenly, you want the best not only for yourself but for the other as well.
To-date, the political atmosphere has proven that Einstein was right about Insanity: we are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Creating divisions to heal divisions is not a successful path. The world, as we know it, will not look the same even five years from now. Life's mirror is talking to us all the time, but do we know how to listen, and are we ready to? We are inviting you to make a personal step forward in dissolving divisions and setting aside judgement not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of every person your encounter. If we all take a step, we will radically change the world!