Listening to Gain Perspective

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On a daily basis I find myself getting annoyed, frustrated, irritated, sad, and disheartened. After the conversations I have had with people over the past couple of weeks I have realised I am not alone in feeling like this. These feelings appear to be fairly universal but for very different reasons.

I find myself frustrated because people don’t follow social distancing, wear masks, etc. etc… you get my drift. I also get frustrated by the lockdown restrictions being woolly, and people seeing them in the same way some people see tax laws (constantly looking for loopholes). Now there will be plenty of you that agree with everything I have just said, some of you will agree with some of what I said and there will be others that agree with nothing that I have said. We are all getting fed up and frustrated but not for the same reasons. Our emotions are very particular to us. What triggers out emotions is how we view the world and what we value. If we are not careful we can get entrenched in those views of the world and fail to see that there may be flaws in what we are seeing. If we consider ourselves to be right, we stop listening and we stop learning, and more importantly we fuel all those unhelpful, destructive emotions.

I sense this is what has been happening to me lately, more and more so, to be fair it sort of creeps up on us all. We think we are fair minded and on the side of good, and that is where the trouble starts. If we are on the side of good, then the others are on the side of bad. If there is a right, then there is a wrong. I imagine if I asked everyone reading this if they were on the side of good, and were right minded, then the vast majority of you all would answer in the affirmative. Not all of you however will have the same viewpoints on how to manage, a pandemic, whether to leave Europe or not, Hull FC or Hull KR, or whether a Pattie should be battered or covered in breadcrumbs. See we can all have a different viewpoint and be on the side of good. Sorry I got distracted by a pattie then, so that is where my trouble started I started to believe my view of the world is the correct one. I started to feel smug and self-righteous, about how people should behave and respond, without attempting to understand why people might be responding and behaving the way they are. I then start getting angry and frustrated over something I have no control over. I found myself expending far too much energy shouting at the TV, tutting at Facebook and rolling my eyes on the bus. It was during one of those moments that I realised that this was pointless and was starting to impact on my well-being. As I was having this existential awakening (again, I have a word with myself on a regular basis, I am what is commonly known as ‘a work in progress’) I thought of a phrase I have been quoted a lot lately, by my go to Oracle, the fabulous Brene Brown…” everyone is doing their best.”

So what if everyone is doing their best with what they know and understand, and I am no different or no more informed on the world around me than they are. You know what sometimes when you see yourself in context it hurts, it is a bit like catching a glimpse of yourself in a mirror. It came as a bit of a shock. I asked myself what if instead of immediately rushing to judgement the next time I witnessed something that I disagreed with I try to understand? What if I listened and observed what was happening? What if we all did that, how much would we truly learn about the world around us. By listening to and understanding each other, we may all start to learn and realise all of our best can be better.

This is a challenging time, which is made all the more challenging by polarised viewpoints. Getting angry with someone because they are not wearing a mask, will not help them understand why you think wearing a mask is important. Being annoyed by people telling you how to live your life is not going to improve your or theirs well-being.

Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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