I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand the other person. The way in which I have worded this statement may seem strange to you. Is it necessary to permit oneself to understand another? I think it is.
Our first reaction to most of the statements (which we hear from other people) is an evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude, or belief, our tendency is almost immediately feel “that’s right,” or “that’s stupid,” “that’s abnormal,” “that’s unreasonable,” “that’s incorrect,” “that’s not nice.”
Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to the other person.”
Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy, and pride. And most citizens don’t want to change their minds about their religion or their hair cut or politics or movies. So, if you are inclined to tell people they are wrong, please read the following from The Mind in the Making:
We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told we are wrong, we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem that is threatened. … We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to it. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.
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