The need to feel heard can often come across as trying to convince someone to change their opinion. At times we can feel justified in “helping” someone change their view point. I want to discuss the topic today around perspective. As stated above, we all have the innate need to feel heard and acknowledged. I think sometimes we mistake the need to feel heard with needing others to agree with our own perspective (at least through my own observation and experience).
This desire to shape others’ perspectives, and or opinions to be more in alignment with the “right ” way can feel like it’s doing good things for the world. Only, this false need to change the opinions of others is exactly the fertile soil the mainstream media and social media platforms need to create the us vs. them environment which keeps us in a near constant state of feeling unheard, under attack, or justified to cause harm.
Terms such as “Trump supporter”, “antivaxer”, “pro-vaxer”, “conspiracy theorist”, “black lives matter”, “all lives matter”, and more close to home for me, “Land back”, raise strong feelings. We can all relate to the frustration that is created in ourselves when we have strong feelings about an issue or situation. The result is that it becomes harder to listen to the opposing party. Additionally,
when we cannot listen, we cannot show up fully and we cannot meet each other’s needs to feel heard. Also it can be harder to separate the need to feel heard from the desire to convert someone to the “right” side.
I think it’s important to remember that we can disagree and still hear each other, hold strong mutual respect, and still be there for those in our family and community.
Let’s not forget that some of the mainstream media outlets are publicly traded companies. This means they need to show growth to their investors. Let’s be real: this is highly inappropriate and encourages polarization just to keep people glued to the news. The perceived power the media holds over public opinion is quite strong and if the bottom line is “profits over people”, then I am sorry to say that makes the information we get through the media unreliable.
It is important to temper the information that comes through our screens with our own lived experiences to connect with those we hold dear and really deeply listen to them. The most challenging part of active listening is that we cannot listen while waiting to express our own opinions. Listening requires us to do our own inner work, reflect and to be able to look at ourselves and our opinions through many different lenses without losing the things that make us unique. As well, the inner work required to be able to give another human our undivided attention.
This means accepting someone for who they are. Period! ( probably the best place to start is accepting ourselves first.)
If you cannot do this for someone are you really there for them?
I am happy to say that I am blessed to be around people who listen to me, as well I do my best to listen fully to people in my life. This is giving me the strength to see through the created divide that reveals itself through our screens. I don’t perceive information coming through as the full truth, or the full story.
Because there are so many viewpoints out there in the world, how could we all fit neatly into one side or the other?
Is that even human?
I know what it feels like to be one of the people whose perspective is being actively silenced by popular culture. As an indigenous person, my identity is often polarized in the media. I would not wish this experience on anyone no matter what they may believe or not.
The single story perspective is a good tool to get things moving in one direction, except the people who fall outside of the common narrative end up being harmed. I know this from lived experience I have existed in a completely different perspective, and I have felt the push back throughout my life. I know I cannot change anything in the larger picture, but what I can say is that I am doing my best to be the change that I wish to see in the world, and that’s enough for me.