I Am Not Your Enemy

By Dave Favor, The Wise Owl

Now and then some pattern strikes me as interesting. I had been talking with several people about politics, and while I know that is always dangerous, I tended to ignore the warning signs and kept charging down this road. I began to notice a trend from people that were very emotional about a candidate or an event, even though they seldom had any noticeable basis in fact. I say that only because when I would ask questions, they had no evidence to support their position. I began to realize that people had purely emotional positions. I would be foolish enough to attempt to show reason with evidence to back up my position. This went nowhere and the entrenched position became a solidified fortress of denial. Not only that but I suddenly feel I was the enemy in their attempts to change me and my opinion. While I could have easily moved on I became curious about why this happens.

Let me back up just a bit to explain my thought. If you buy into the emotional intelligence or self-mastery theory that is popular these days, or at least I find it to be popular, then you are in control of the interpretation of the event and the reaction. The self-mastery theory is that an event happens, and we interpret that event based on our beliefs and assign a meaning. That meaning causes us to react. The example we often use in our seminars has two couples receiving an invitation to a community dance. One couple believes that dancing is a sin and has a very negative reaction. The other couple believes that it is a great way to have fun and has a very positive reaction. There is a whole section here on what paradigm they are in, but I am sure you remember that part if you attended any of our seminars. The point here is that one couple creates joy in their life, and one creates fear. We seem to have the ability to shape the world as we wish, yet we constantly fail due to fears and limitations that we put in our brain.

Looking closer at this, if there is no basis in fact and the event itself is just part of your belief system, you are also in control of the event. In other words, there is no invitation, which was the event, to kick off our example above. The event was built into your belief system, and you are searching for evidence of it. Once you find it, you are off and running. Now that seems interesting to me. You have something that is creating a strong emotional reaction in your life that you have total control of. This is great if the result is a great joy, which I believe is a good thing. However, what if it is causing stress, headaches, upset stomachs, or any of the other negative results? Well, the good news is you can prevent it. The bad news is you not only created it, but it is with you always.

I do not think this phenomenon is unique to politics. I have seen this in business as well as life. Have you ever noticed that the same key moment or event will produce different reactions in people? You may become depressed or frustrated while someone else may just laugh it off. Frustrating huh! You should be getting some idea as to why this happens. When someone states an opinion and seems entrenched in the opinion despite attempts to offer a reasonable response, remember you are not the enemy. You simply hear their reaction to the event based on their belief system and environment.

Having learned this, I find myself learning to quit trying to change an entrenched opinion. Once I recognize there is no hope of change with an open and honest discourse on the difference of opinions, I stop and move on. Life seems to be a bit simpler since I have adopted this philosophy. Moreover, my blood pressure seems to be normal again.

Recognize that your opinions are also based on your belief system and the environment. Is that why someone does not see things your way? Perhaps, and it is only a suggestion, you can open your mind and your world, rethinking your opinions, and learn something new.

Dave Favor is the President and principal in Catalyst Group, Inc.  He brings to the table over 50 years high-level business and management experience, including time at IBM and as a private consultant to major Fortune 500 companies. Dave’s experience allows him to bring to the table a way of running a business that small business and law firms can strategically leverage. A teacher of self-mastery, leadership, and business principles, he is a believer in value-based living and working; Dave is truly the Wisest of Owls.  Catalyst Group, Inc. is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is known for its mentoring of small businesses and law firms.