Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Intentional Vision-Cognitive Dissonance

Year 4-Day 26: Today, I am grateful for "intentional vision" when opinions differ.

Ask two people to describe the same event and you may get to entirely different stories. Both are essentially true, but the eyes of the beholder hold the key.  

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Do You See What I See?". It asks a really powerful question.  It a question that helps us seek out like minded people who see the world with similar view points.  "Do you see what I see?"

How can we grow if we only surround ourselves with people who think like us? Listening to other opinions, with respect, may not change my thinking, but it will help me understand "my neighbor" better. It, also, encourages me to be sure of where I stand. One of the great gifts of maturity is coming to a place of not needing everyone to agree with my opinion. The the idea of "standing alone" does not evoke fear, but a sense of resignation.

One of my favorite communication concepts from my theory class was Leon Festinger's "Theory of Cognitive Dissonance": 

Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress  or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

It can be an internal conflict when suddenly, that which I hold to be evident and true... shifts. It can be an emotional earthquake. It can be an internal conflict, or it can be differing opinions in a valued relationship. In a nutshell...when someone we really like, respect and admire disagrees with us, it creates discomfort.   

A recent study showed that very thing that breaks down marriages and other relationships is "the need to be right." Human arrogance...and I was born with my fair share...is a destructive force. It is at the source of much of the "ugly" in this world. The "spirit of constructiveness" is not a fruit of the spirit.

It is hard to be in a relationship with someone who beats you down with their conviction and commitment to their own superiority.  

The need to be right is pride. The scriptures speak to this:
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." - James 4:10
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18

Is the need to be right more important than the relationship?  

It is why I rarely post anything political. I really do enjoy reading the thoughts of others, but find there are few things in the political arena that are truly black and white for me. 20 years in social services will do that to a person. There are many shades of gray in politics. 
Nothing divides friends, family and co-workers faster. I can love my country and disagree with "my neighbor" who loves it just as much, when it comes to managing it's resources and caring for the people of our nation.  

We can respectfully agree to disagree. Intentional vision...looking beyond the opinion... to the value of the person changes the outcome of any disagreement. 

Effective communication requires listening as much as speaking. When we carefully listen to others, we gain insight. Vision sharpens. And, it is okay to end a conversation or an interaction with "agreeing to disagree". This is where I often find myself searching for what the scriptures say with regard to a particular matter. There is so much to explore.  

The little things that I let ruin my day and break down relationships are quite often "worthless things'.  

"Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways."-Psalm 119:37

For me, it has been the discipline of gratitude that helps my vision refocus on what is truly important.  Not being right, but letting disagreements and differing opinions set a fire in my soul  that makes me study what it means to live "life in your ways". 

Today, I am grateful for "intentional vision" when opinions differ.I am grateful for reminders to seek humility over the "spirit of correctiveness". 

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