(Originally posted at Absolution Mediation)
(Photo Credit: Lochaven)
So Christmas has come and gone, we went to some family things, talked to some friends, and maybe have a few family things lingering yet. I'm willing to bet that over this holiday season somebody said something that made you think, "Why would they think that?" Or maybe you were thinking, "How did they form that opinion?" I'm willing to throw it out there that everyone had some sort of experience like this. Why? Because we all have different stories, opinions, lives.
Let's take a sensitive issue; homosexuality. Maybe someone in your family, or a friend, said something negative about homosexuality that got your back up, because their views were different then yours. How do we agree to disagree? How can we respect their views without compromising our own? I'm going to show you one way that this is possible. It is through our stories and experiences that we each (individually) have. It's called the I remember whens.
It is a simple exercise, start your sentence with, "I remember when..." and tell a story about the experience that you have associated with that particular word. It is important to share the story that is associated with that word without throwing your opinion or agenda into the story.
For example, I don't want to do this;
I remember when a friend of mine told me he was gay, and it was the best thing ever and everyone should be gay.
This example, we are throwing our opinions in, as well as our agenda. Rather it should look like this;
I remember when my friend told me he was gay. I could see the relief and happiness in his face, I could hear the freedom in his voice, and I could feel the burden that had been lifted from him from sharing his journey with me.
See the difference? In the second example we explore what we experienced through our senses. It is impossible for you to disagree with my story because it is my experience, my senses told me that, that is how I interpreted the situation. You can't disagree with me because for me, this is what happened, this is real, this is what happened to me.
Likewise, I can't disagree with your story, for the same reasons that I just listed. We both have experiences with the same word(s) and we both have different stories that we could share with one another to support our "positions" but through the telling of stories we move from our positions to a shared experience and exploration of each other's stories.
It may not change our perspectives of the situation, or change what we think about the subject matter, but we can respect each other's stories and live in that conflict. Make sense? I will occasionally use this tactic in mediations to show people that we won't always agree on things because we see, feel, taste, and hear the world differently. However, it is through the sharing of stories that we can live with each other in the face of conflict.
I'm not saying that this is easy...it takes practice like everything else, but give it a try. I know you are in conflict with someone else right now, boil that conflict down into a word and share your stories with each other, and make sure you LISTEN to them.
Leave me a comment and let me know how it goes, or if you have experienced this before leave a comment and share your experiences.