For having lived long, I have experiences many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise. -Benjamin Franklin
One lesson that I didn’t expect to learn from focusing on receiving is how little opinions actually matter. This is surprising, as I have long relied on my early discovery that I could find my ground by learning how to express what I thought. For dozens of years, I learned and understood my thoughts by talking about them. I grew up trusting that a well-constructed argument was enough to change minds or at least policies. It wasn’t just well-chosen words, but recognizing the power of speaking them to the right person that increased my belief in the power of my point of view.
Yet the success that I experienced in knowing and expressing my point of view out in the consumer world or in school systems did not hold up among relationships with family and friends. Especially with my growing children, the idea that my opinion would/should/could matter or change their own choices was short-lived and served as the context of family battle- grounds for several uncomfortable years. It wasn’t about who was right, although it often ended up with the feeling that someone had to be wrong.
It took many years, decades even, for me to realize that you can’t tell anyone anything, unless they are asking for and looking at how they think themselves. In most any discussion, the leverage point is not in speaking, although I did for years cling to the over talking, repeating methods of trying to change someone else’s point of view. In actuality, the fulcrum of a conversation is in the listening, because other people shift their perspective not from hearing your point of view, but their own.
We are all often blinded by our own point of view to the larger and more expansive reality we live in. Giving up your own point of view even briefly enables you to have an authentic vision of the situation. Reflecting on what is without the bias of your own point of view is a communication from the heart. This happens when people take a courageous stand as well. When we speak from this larger vision, we reflect a point of view, which includes everyone’s needs.
This kind of communication expands far beyond any individual point of view. It takes no convincing when we bear witness to the truth of the moment. We resonate with the truth, regardless of our personal opinion. I am grateful to be giving up my own opinion in exchange for the capacity to see. What generally comes through is the best of everyone, having nothing to do with their opinions.