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How to handle disagreements and get clarity

A few weeks ago, my sister posted old family  photos on Facebook.  There was a photo of my mother when she was thirteen along with a photo of my father and assorted other photos.  One of my cousins commented on the photo, she remembers my mother loaning her a coat and some gloves when she was a teen.  My cousin remarked that she still remembers how my mother told her not to be nervous going to the party and that she looked pretty.  My mother told her to be herself and all would work out.

When I saw this remark or comment on Facebook , I felt compelled to let my cousin know how precious this moment was.  I mentioned that I’m glad that she had that experience and wished that I had known my mother when she was healthy and able to uplift someone like that.  I also commented that I was unable to receive that kind of support, since my mother was ill during my childhood and there wasn’t any opportunity… being the seventh of nine children to have moments like that.  My mother was just plain too tired.

I also commented after a friend from high school posted her remark about my father’s photo.  She said that she remembered my Dad  was always nice to her.  I remarked after that comment that my father was nice to all my female friends. Which only really meant that he was tough on the male friends and dates that came over to pick me up.

After my two comments I received some messages from my sister’s husband of which who posted the photos.  My brother in- law  took offense to my comments and proceeded to lecture me on Facebook.  I read his comments and realized he had taken what I had said out of context.  My comments were not intended to offend him or my sister.  I was puzzled at the strength of his words in telling me I should respect my parents for their efforts in raising me.

Being lectured as an adult by another adult made my ego flare up, momentarily.  I am human after all.  I had some options, I could have been confrontational, sarcastic and rude and kept this banter going on and on in a public forum. We all battle our ego’s.  You better believe I did a good deal of grumbling to my self.  Some of these grumblings  included, how dare he scold me.  How would he know what my experience is with my parents?  Grumbling that I was simply responding to other people’s posts about the photo’s its not as if I just randomly said such things.  Then I had to look at how I let these words, these lecturing words bother me and why.

You see  he objected from his perception of my parents.  Often people want you to see things from their perception and will try to scold you into shame or control your thoughts and feelings.  Years ago I may have shot back with something sarcastic or taken offense at his tone and control.

Since I’ve studied the ego and the perceptions people have it has been easier to respond to verbal attacks and not take it personally. Realize people come from their own perspectives based on their beliefs.  Beliefs come from our ancestry namely parents, other adults and peers and its who we get most of our beliefs from.  My brother in-law and including my sister did not experience my parents quite the way I did so it would be true for them that they have a different belief system.  Who is wrong?  No one… we are both correct.

Even though he interpreted my comments incorrectly he assumed that I was making statements that were negative.  Assuming is another area that can get us into trouble, especially on social networking sites that leave a lot of room for interpretations.  My sister who was the third child can have a completely different experience than the seventh child might have.  Since she is 10 years my senior, she was already married and living out of our family home when I was 10 years old. What I experienced was measurably different than her so my perceptions of my childhood are mine and no one else’s.  There was no point in trying to argue my feelings and perceptions or theirs.

When we meet this type of attack in our day to day lives, whether its family or friends or social networking acquaintances, we can learn how to respond by honoring the other person’s perspective.  It doesn’t and probably won’t be exactly like mine or yours.  Since our beliefs are formed from different sources, how could we expect someone to think and react exactly the same?

All attack is from ego.  The ego serves us both positively and negatively.  The ego fights for its existence and nobody wins trying to fight someones ego.  Instead I answered the comments made with a question to clarify what my brother in law thought I meant.  When we clarify we are not assuming anything and have a much clearer understanding of the reason’s behind the attack.

It takes practice to come from this place.  The first place we typically want to go is reaction , our ego flares up and this is how misunderstandings prevail. By observing our own feelings and reactions first and questioning why this type of comment would disturb us in the first place is telling. Perhaps we haven’t fully forgiven someone, or maybe we need to look deeper.  If we have fully resolved the issue within us someone else’s comments or scolding wouldn’t have any affect whatsoever.

To disarm any potential attacks I suggest giving time before firing off a response whether it is through social networking or in person. Check in with yourself on how you might be perceiving the words and realize that they (the attacker) is right in that they are coming from their own beliefs.  To discredit them by firing attack words back is essentially telling them their belief system is wrong.  How would you know?  Its funny when you dissect things like this and it can truly make you laugh out loud.  When you do this you disarm any potential disagreement first from yourself and then outwardly with others.

If you tell the attacker that coming from their perspective they are right and that you too have a perspective that is also right can so dismantle the opportunity for disagreement. It will amaze you.  When I have suggested this to people that I have worked with their immediate response is that they don’t want to give up control and admit that someone might be right.  I say this is being more in control by not playing the battle of the will or ego.  You are in charge in this instance.  Its highly empowering.  Give it a try.  I would love your comments and feedback. Please accept this invitation for discussion.  Looking forward to your comments.

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