Recently, I have wondered why the culture I grew up in and the global mainstream of humanity today seems to be mired in an ever-increasing downward spiral of denigrating speech, sarcasm, and labeling.
As a result, in my opinion, the unconscious practice of differentiating ourselves carries with it the destructive potential of long term separation which can leave us to a pool of depression, despair, and loneliness.
Right before retiring from my corporate identity I began to investigate how the language and labels I had used for so long shaped the perception I had of success and more often than not, my results in a given situation. For example, I grew up on the word competition and as an athletic youth I gained almost elite crafting of how to compete for almost everything in my life — I won and lost games, jobs, homes, etc. Our culture is replete with the idea that in order to get ahead or to achieve what one wants, they must compete.
On the other hand, I have had the opportunity to embrace the art of collaboration as a means of replacing the old method of contending for what I wanted. I actually found it much more pleasurable participating, cooperating, and collaborating with others on projects since there was a communal element, a shared experience, and as such I was able to learn and appreciate so much more of myself and others under these circumstances.
Each has their place and I’m not saying that one is better than the other, just that they are different. For me, competition, in and of itself, had the tendency to produce more separation than collaboration did. Whether it’s an individual or team competition the winners and losers are at opposite ends of the competitive spectrum and as such, essentially separated from each other.
Another set of words I considered in conjunction with expressing my view s about separation here are the words Adversary vs Ally. For me, this was significantly more clear cut. All I had to do was ask myself whether I would prefer to be labeled as an adversary, with its overly distinct competitive association or as an ally, again with the idea of collaboration to achieve a specific end.
I remember saying something like “if only those people in Headquarters would recognize what was going on down on the floor they might do something differently.” I also remember the disdain my co-workers often felt because of the distinct feeling of separation with our partners in the main office. It wasn’t until right before I retired that I realized the disadvantage in which I/we had placed ourselves whenever we viewed the other functions as separate, different, divided or disconnected.
That was when I coined the phrase,
“they are the other part of me.”
The effect of using this phrase over and over has been immediate and delightfully productive in changing my attitude towards conflicting or contrasting environments, situations or people. Where I might have a difference of opinion, I no longer have to view it as right/wrong, we/they, but instead, I have found elements of myself in others. When I do, it becomes much easier to collaborate or to attempt to understand their point(s) of view since I am essentially seeing in them…aspects of myself.
PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING
May peace always walk with you and those you love, and may what you see in others remind you of the peace within yourself.