connecting through curiosity
It seems risky to me, tagging some posts “how to love.” (This is the second, if you’re keeping track.) Preaching is not something I want to do, but talking about my favorite ideas is definitely something I want to do! I’m so excited about these ideas, and I haven’t quite figured out how to share that excitement. Consider this an experiment, and please let me know how you think it’s going.
“Winning” an argument
Sometimes, I get so caught up in my own opinions that I start arguing, as though all I want in the world is to be proven right. But yikes! That’s not actually what I want. What I want is real connections with people, loving connections, and also to learn things! My arguing doesn’t get me those things…
When I remember this, sometimes I’m able to converse a different way, and avoid those conversations that turn into pain-cycles and disconnection.
Then, I take an approach of curiosity instead of coming from a place of thinking I already know what matters. And what I’m curious about is two things: what’s most important to me in the moment, and what’s most important to the other person.
This is not a skill I learned overnight. In fact, after years of work, I’m still learning it. But maybe I can at least describe it a little bit, just in case you’re wondering, sometimes, what the heck I’m on about.
What’s important to me
When I find myself saying “You’re wrong!” or “How could he say such a thing!” or “What an ass”, I realize that something is really important to me right then. Maybe the person’s “wrong” about how early we should leave for an appointment, or which political party should win an election, or how best to eat to promote health. Whatever the topic, there’s something in my heart that’s wanting my attention.
So if I approach my own heart with curiosity about what’s happening inside me, I wonder: Am I excited, having looked forward to the appointment for a long time? Or am I wanting to avoid rushing, and thinking we have plenty of time to get there? Maybe I am sad and scared about the war, and really wanting it to end soon? Something real and human is happening inside me, and if I know what it is, I feel calmer, and more able to be curious about the other person’s heart.
What’s important to the other person
Once I know what’s in my heart, I can turn the angry “How could he say such a thing” into a curious “How could he say that?” “What might she be feeling & thinking?” or “What’s most important to them here?”
Sometimes when I ask these questions, I’m astounded by the answers. Maybe he’s afraid for his safety. Maybe she’s wanting to be respected. Maybe they’re wanting to feel their hard work isn’t wasted. All these things are things I can hear, and understand.
And right at this moment…
Right at this moment, I’m writing this post because I want to connect with you. I want to flesh out some (maybe) obscure things I’ve said on twitter. This way of listening to myself and others has transformed my life and what it means for me to hear “love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t want to preach, but I do want to share what I love, especially with my friends, and folks I care about.
So now I’m curious about you, and your reaction to hearing this. Any thoughts you’d care to share?
Posted by Angela under ideas
Saturday, March 20, 2010