I recently had a conversation with a group of people who became very..um..passionate in their discussion about beliefs.While some defined the discussion as a passionate debate, others more emotional, defined it as a heated argument. But what caused the difference of opinion and view of the discussion might be saying something about how we view ourselves as individuals. Are we confident about our position in the debate, or insecure?
Debate is a good thing most of the time. It’s an exchange of ideas, a challenge to linear thinking that may cause opposing sides to expand their views. It may even alter a long held perspective, directing it down different avenues of thought that never occurred to an individual before.
I’ve noticed, however, that many times, informal discussions evolve into passionate debates that eventually break down into heated arguments that leave one or both sides of the conversation with hurt feelings, angry emotions and sometimes long standing feuds between individuals.
And this is especially true if the discussions are about one of the three taboo subjects that you don’t discuss with family or at the dinner table: religion, politics or money!
How You Define Who You Are
I am the only person in my family, immediate or other wise that isn’t baptized. I’ve always seen and talked to ghosts and spirits as a child. I’ve always been encouraged to find my own way and to think for myself, at least in the realm of religion. Because of this I’ve never been in the “broom closet”. I’ve never hidden my beliefs, nor felt a need to hide them from anyone. I’m pretty in your face about being pagan and frankly I rather enjoy it. I like being free to talk about what I believe and how I perceive the world without worry of persecution. I know what I know, I’ve studied and researched for over 25 years, so I’m confident in my perspectives and understandings.
Now of course that means I’ve faced ridicule (especially being from the south). I’ve faced intolerance, bigotry and even anger and hate. I’ve been told I’m delusional, insane, sinful and of course a “devil worshiper”. I’ve been told I’m an elitist, arrogant, condescending and hateful. That I think I’m smarter than others (well..frankly I think I am smarter than some people I’ve met, but that’s a different story), or that what I say is the only way it is (that one always amazes me).
One thing I have learned as I’ve gotten older, is that what others have called me is really an outward reflection of their own insecurities. And I’m not responsible for their feelings of self. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. And that line is often drawn by the security or insecurity of the seer and which side of the line they’re standing on. “One person’s confidence is another person’s arrogance” is an old quote that no one knows who originally said it. Those that think I’m arrogant, have their own insecurities to deal with. Those who see me as confident have discovered their own confidence within themselves.
One who is insecure often ridicules others in order to fight off their own fears.They have easily bruised egos and feel threatened when in debate. Of course when you feel threatened you want to defend yourself. You allow your fear to control your emotions, the anger builds and you lash out to protect yourself. But debate isn’t about attacking the individual with the opposing view. If any attacking is done, its attacking the subject or topic of debate.
But it’s the feeling of insecurity that brings up the passionate feelings and exposes an individuals emotions to damage. My husband once told me, “if you don’t want your ego bruised, don’t bring it in the room.” If you can remember that, then you can stand firm in your beliefs without taking on the emotional attacks others may make to throw you off guard and fracture the foundation of your argument.
Religion, politics and money are very personal topics, so if you’re going to discuss these subjects try to remember not to bring your ego into the conversation. You can be secure in your views, as long as you’re willing to being open to new information and new ideas as well.
Find Confidence Within
One who has confidence in self, can admit they don’t know it all and they’re open to new information. New views don’t shake the foundation of belief, they expand it. New perspectives challenge your concepts and force you to widen your views and your understandings. There’s nothing wrong with that. Change is a good thing most of the time. It keeps us going forward, inspires us to learn more and encourages us to reach for enlightenment and wisdom. Expanding your views or altering your perspectives doesn’t make you ‘wrong’ in your original thinking; it makes you better educated and knowledgeable.
I have met some wonderfully confident people in my life. And one thing I’ve noticed about them all is that they usually have no problems admitting their limitations. Even if they’re temporary limitations. It’s a means of laughing at their own noticeable mistakes without shaking their inner confidence. My favorite example of this comes from a NASCAR Driver 3-time Champion Tony Stewart (of whom I’m a very big fan). I’ve used this example in other posts on my blog, so if you’ve been here before you know this already.
Many years ago in a Busch race (the lower level of the racing series, now known as the Nationwide) Tony and his car, spun (on his own) and crashed in turn 4 on the track, knocking himself out of the race. In the garage, a reporter put a microphone in his face soon after and said “What happened”? Tony responded, as only Tony can; “Just ran out of talent I guess”.
I love that response. And in my perspective, only someone who has confidence in their own abilities would say something like that about them self in jest and not allow it to impact their confidence. Especially going into the more important Nextel Cup race (the premier series, now the Sprint Cup series) on the very next day.
It’s this view that I try to hold onto when others criticize me and my perspectives. It’s especially useful when others try with passion to convince me that I’m wrong and must believe as they do to be right. I might stumble and fall on my path and in life. But I still have confidence in my abilities, my knowledge and what I believe in. I don’t define who I am by the labels others place on my shoulders. Those are not my burdens to carry. I don’t get upset or angry when others try to argue their point with vim and vigor. Because they don’t control my experiences, my perspectives or my lessons learned. And I’m as equally passionate, but I don’t need someone else to validate who I am or what beliefs I hold.
I already know that I don’t know everything, no matter what a persons education or experience, there’s always something new to learn. But I also have confidence in what I do know. I’ve done my homework, my research, I’ve put it into practice and I’ve gone through the experiences. I have proven my abilities to myself and I’m proud of the work and experiences I’ve had and shared with others. All of those moments have gotten me to this place in my life. I have moved past the need for outside validation from others, because I have learned that my personal experiences have validated my own beliefs and that’s all I need.
I already know that my views don’t resonate with everyone. And that’s ok. I’m not trying to convince others to believe as I do. I’m only sharing my understanding of life, my perspectives based on my experiences and if you agree; great come sit by the fire and we’ll have a great chat.
When you can finally admit these things to yourself, you have no need to prove anything to anyone else. You lose the need to gain approval from others, or to validate your own personal experiences through the perspectives of someone else. And when you free yourself from this need, you release the need to defend your view from a place of insecurity.
I believe the Divine Multiverse is big enough for all views. While I may not believe as others do, I can respect those alternative views and perspectives, without their concepts threatening my beliefs. I can learn about them and sometimes I might even choose to expand my understandings because of them. They may not be exactly the same, I might interpret them a little differently. But even with opposing perspectives, we can still learn from each other.
When you approach your life in this way, the need to “defend” your position becomes unnecessary and less important. Even when your perspectives are based on your personal experiences, accepting that others have alternative experiences empowers you. There’s no need to prove that your beliefs are true or the one true way, because they’re true for you and what you have experienced in life. You can be open to learning new things and expanding your experiences. But you can do so from a place of confidence and security.
So next time you find yourself in a discussion that becomes a debate, don’t allow your emotions and a need for outside validation shatter your confidence. Keep your ego out of the discussion, allow others to believe as they choose; even if they are insisting you believe as they do. When they become irritated and start to defend their position with passion or anger, then perhaps that’s the time to walk away and end the debate all together.