I just returned from a river cruise along the Rhine. River boats are small and intimate and you can easily make new friends if you want to. At breakfast on our first morning, we and our traveling partners met a fun and engaging couple and spent lots of time with them over the next few days. On the morning of the third day, the “he” of the couple pulled a logoed hat out of his bag and flashed it in front of me. I squinted at first and then with a dismayed look said, “What is THAT?”
With the current political climate, it’s not hard to guess the source of our immediate conflict. In that moment, I felt something shift inside of me. I needed to create some distance to think, but we were on a bus! Fortunately, it was time to leave for our excursion and we were instructed to sit and buckle up. Sitting with my thoughts, I had so many questions. How do I process what I just learned? How did I ever feel a connection with this person? And how did I not sense that we had such different view points and perspectives?
In the solitude offered by my bus seat, I started to use my tools and go within to my peaceful, wise center where I’m able to discover fresh perspectives and possibilities. I realized that this was an opportunity. A chance to try and have a civilized conversation about really emotional and difficult issues. To see each other through lenses other than the one that so divided us.
I can’t tell you that our conversations over the remainder of the cruise were always civil or that we found much we could agree upon. But we kept talking and exchanged business cards, opening the door to keep trying. Incidents like Trump’s recent mockery of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony with fellow Americans cheering in the background, however, hasn’t provided me with much incentive.
But I know I must try because the divide just keeps getting wider, and there will never be a shortage of reasons to want to run the other way. People on both sides are afraid. Afraid we’ll lose something very dear to us, or we’ve lost something that we desperately want back. Our relationships are strained and fractured and there’s a growing list of topics we avoid discussing.
Where are we headed if we don’t have conversations across the divide? Who in your life do you care enough about to start a difficult conversation and try to find some common ground? Join me now in this conversation by sharing your thoughts and stories in the comments section below. If we’re willing to be transparent on both sides, and even vulnerable, we can narrow the divide.
We need new tools to help us deal with the conflict and anxiety we’re feeling and the uncertainty we’re all facing. Click on the link below and you can download 3 practices that my clients and I use regularly to feel more grounded, safe, confident and in control. You’ll get tips on using your emotions and thoughts in healthy and positively powerful ways and some strategic tips on meditating.