“Let’s build bridges, not walls.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
In this episode, we will unpack how to build bridges that allow us to connect with others by taking a stance of curiosity and how walls of protection can leave us feeling isolated and seeing others through the lens of judgement.
We all have personal values. The unique formation of our values is what is “normal” to us. They are formed by our family of origin, society, experiences and so on. Understanding our values can be most helpful to know where we start and finish, especially when interacting with others because no two people are the same.
Walls protect! I am most grateful for the four walls that I find myself surrounded by. There is a place for walls and boundaries as they enable us to be protected. How about judgement, is there a place for it also? Imagine life with no absolutes, no law? Would we be left in a state of chaos? The walls and judgement that I am referring to in this episode are not the ones that keep us safe. They speak of the walls that we build when we are in the presence of the unfamiliar, and we find ourselves judging because of misinformation or lack of knowledge.
Building bridges doesn’t me we forfeit our sense of self or safety; building bridges with everyone may not be the wisest choice. There may be bridges that we choose not to cross for safety reasons, and making those calls are necessary.
When it comes to building bridges with others, the aim is to maintain our sense of self, identity, thoughts, and emotions when emotionally or physically close with others. It’s respecting others for who they are, and as we lean into curiosity, we hope to understand others and their world while still being authentic.
Here are three ways that you might like to start building bridges with others:
1. A growing awareness and a solid sense of self is where it all begins. It is knowing what our values and beliefs are. It’s understanding our emotions, seeing ourselves accurately and embracing our uniqueness that we might embrace another.
2. Be curious! Seeking understanding doesn’t mean that we need to agree. We don’t need to forfeit our values and beliefs to build a bridge; however, it’s learning to respect someone else’s beliefs.
3. A growth mindset can allow us to learn from others and leave aside what does not apply to us. Choosing curiosity over judgement leaves room for connections and new insights about what we believe and how we turn up in the world.
On a finishing note, in our differences, we can choose to be curious and seek out understanding that allows us to cross the bridge into another’s world while maintaining a sense of self.