This morning I am enjoying coffee in a different location. I am attending a retreat for work and while there will be much learning taking place today, there is something renewing about spending time with like-minded colleagues away from the office.
Sometimes that is all we need…a different perspective, a different point of view, to put ourselves in a different place…to change our minds and hearts. Sometimes we just need to see something different, to spend time with different people, to remember that there are other ways of thinking and feeling and being and we do not have to be stuck in only one.
I recently responded to someone online, the leader of a group trying to keep a school from closing (or more accurately, from changing and adapting to new realities) because she referred to a person in the board as the c-word. I told her I didn’t think that was an effective way to get someone to listen to what she wants and that calling people offensive names in a public forum is not teaching our kids how to effectively handle disagreements. She mocked me, posted a video hinting that I think I am better than everyone else, and was generally defensive. That’s fine. I don’t need to continue to follow that story from her perspective. I was trying to gather opinions and experiences from both sides of what could be a very intense battle.
While I was angry, I am going to try to take a different perspective. Perhaps this is such an emotionally charged issue for her, that all logic has become inaccessible. Maybe she felt personally attacked by me when I suggested that calling people the c-word is not really ever appropriate. Maybe she doesn’t have any more energy to respond in a regulated and calm manner. And she doesn’t know me, so she wouldn’t know that my comment was less criticism and more suggestion to help her get her point heard. Either way, I have chosen to leave that group as I do not believe their goals align with my values.
We have also been dealing with a situation in our family with our kids’ birth mother. While I won’t get into the details, the situation has left everyone feeling on edge, angry and afraid. We have, as parents, put a plan in place to keep the kids safe, and to honour their decisions not to communicate with the birth parents, but it is hard to take on a different perspective. Like, maybe she just wants to feel some connection to the kids, but doesn’t have the ability to follow appropriate channels. Maybe she doesn’t realize she is scaring the kids. Maybe she is just a woman who feels so much loss that she has lost the ability to consider how her actions now may impact the kids’ desire to ever see her in the future.
When I can change perspective, I can approach situations with compassion and empathy. It isn’t easy, but how often to we step back in stressful situations to attempt to see a different perspective? How can we approach our colleagues, our students, our spouses, our children with an open heart and mind, and the ability to shift our perspective on those stressful moments? Can we see the human in front of us? Can we see the possibility that they are doing their best with the situation they are facing?
Can we do the same for ourselves? Can we grant ourselves some grace instead of judgement?
I wish you all a beautiful day. I am off to take a short walk on the beach before breakfast.