If we could all create the personalities that would mesh smoothly with our own, we might have an easier time in life’s day to day. But would we be content?
Life might be more predictable, perhaps less volatile. Maybe we would have fewer conflicts. That would be good for our blood pressure.
But is it better for overall wellness and quality of life?
In some situations, the answer is definitely “Yes.”
In others, well, we can change in ways that might help smooth the road a bit so that traveling along with someone we love but with whom we disagree, is more tolerable. It is useful to remember that we cannot change another person. We can only change ourselves. As we consider the options, we can be aware of the type of change that is productive for the relationship while keeping ourselves intact.
Avoiding “mine field” topics helps sometimes but then, over time, there amass a significant number of topics to avoid, and our conversations become dialogues on a series of edited, pre-scripted, safe topics. This can be stressful so exploring positive ways to discuss difficult topics can be worth it.
Living with and / or loving someone whose view of the world is different from our own can be challenging. But it can bring an entirely new way of experiencing the world and it can help us develop compassion.
If these people were exactly as we wish they would be, for certain, we would miss an opportunity to see the world through a different set of eyes (the eyes of someone we care about). But, in fact, some of us are not interested in seeing or hearing this other person’s perspective. We are more interested in having them see the world through our eyes. And we want them to go along without challenging us.
Instead of providing comfort or a haven for one another, expressing an opinion about politics, children, grandchildren, in-laws, friends, is viewed as a call to arms (and not the hugging kind). One partner perceives their role as needing to convince the other to change their opinion about something or someone rather than offering their partner a safe space to vent, express disappointment, anger, hurt, or whatever feeling they have. When we understand how and why someone holds their belief, we are more likely to find a way to accept the person without belittling or devaluing them. We do not have to agree with them but we can alter our attitude about how we engage.
Some behaviors that I have noticed that help reduce clashes include committing to learning ways to listen empathetically, letting go of the need to control, manipulate, or influence toward a particular outcome, steering away from assumptions about the other person’s motivation or agenda, keeping a sense of humor, facing our fears; and reminding ourselves what we love about this person.
If it is possible for two people who have different personalities and approaches to life to live together respectfully and I believe it is, then what helps to make that possible? It takes motivation, desire, and commitment.
Stillness is hard to come by these days as we strive to meet our obligations amidst myriad interruptions with our devices, work, and family. Taking time to slow down and clear our mind can help us navigate through life’s daily pressures. Practicing stillness gives us the opportunity to self-reflect and gain better understanding of what is important to us. It can help reduce mental clutter and clue us in on emotions we’re experiencing but don’t have time to examine.
How do we move from motion to stillness?
A stillness practice, in whatever setting we have, can help remind us of who we are and who we are not.
Someone said recently that she only hangs one picture in her workspace because she wants to be able to change it. She’s always thinking of rearranging the furniture or changing the color of the walls but finds the easiest way to change her workspace is to change a painting. It then influences her perspective each time she changes it.
How could you add art to your daily life and focus on it for a few moments? It doesn’t have to a piece of art in your physical space; it could be art on your computer home screen.