One of the most important aspects of our mental and physical health is our connection to others. “No man is an island” is not just an ancient literary expression, it is a truism of humanity. None of us can survive or thrive without connection to others. This is true from individual relationships to international affairs.. Yet, due to divisions between us, disconnection has never been stronger. Interpersonal division and disconnection leads to stress which can be a source of disease and premature death. What can we do about it?
I suggest the solution may be as simple as this. When in a discourse with another individual with whom you disagree, stop talking for a minute, and just listen.
Listening has become a lost art. And even when we are listening, we may be doing nothing more than pretending, and being polite. To truly listen, one must HEAR what the other person is saying.
I have often stated that all human beings, to feel a sense of self worth, simply want to be seen, heard and know that they matter. Just listening and paying attention to a supposed adversary is immediately disarming, diffuses any hostility, and immediately builds bridges between people.
Abraham Lincoln once said,”I don’t think I liked that man. Perhaps I need to get to know him better.” Imagine that sentiment today!?!
For your own mental and physical health, I suggest you listen to those whom you perceive as adversaries, and even get to know them a little better. At the very least, your differences may appear to shrink. At best, you will no longer be adversaries but fellow passengers on spaceship earth, simply trying to do the best you can, and doing it together.
Connection is healing. I wish you the best!
Dr. John Monaco