Here’s a mental exercise I do many times a day. Something everyone should practice doing more often.
Think of something, anything, that you have a strong opinion about. This could be religious or political in nature, or your thoughts about yourself, especially if you have any self-esteem issues.
Now take that belief and concentrate on it, muse on it, think about why you believe it to be true. Then stop and ask yourself…
WHAT IF I’M WRONG?
Believe me, it is possible to be wrong. It happens all the time. And besides, even if you don’t think you’re wrong, someone else might be just as convinced they are right about the exact opposite belief and how can you both be right? You COULD both be right, or you could both be wrong.
It is obvious now that we have a very fractured society. People are calling people they’ve never met vile names on the internet and worse, there is violence committed every day over people not allowing room for someone else’s firmly held beliefs if they do not match their own.
The only way to solve this is for people to choose a path of greater humility and kindness toward people who do not agree with you. Guess what? If you grew up in a rural area, you probably have some beliefs on issues that run totally opposite to someone whose life experience began in an urban area. Your circumstances were wildly different, but that doesn’t mean that the other doesn’t come by their beliefs honestly. Through respectful, authentic, open communication with those you don’t agree, both parties can increase empathy for the other and grow to trust and value one another.
It is often easier to hurl insults through your phone, but the degradation to our society this behavior causes is incalculable.
And if you think all this is rah-rah, hippie stuff that doesn’t apply to the “real world,” maybe you could try the suggested exercise. Ask yourself, what if you’re wrong?