Thursday, May 30, 2013

Common Ground

Our best friends are the best and our closest relationships are so close because we share a lot of common ground with those individuals. This common ground is often built upon shared experiences. We meet someone on the first day of school and we go through every day with them, side by side, we hear the same lectures, we do the same assignments, we interact with the same people, we share hours and hours of our life together. We are friends because our lives are entwined. Over time these experiences build a bond. Inside jokes develop, we know what each other is thinking by body language, and we feel like we really know each other. These types of shared experiences often develop at work, school, church, clubs, on sports teams, in our neighborhoods and families.
Deep and lasting bonds are built on more than just shared experiences. We share interests, values and passions. It's more than just experiencing the same thing, it is reacting to those events in a similar way. We are more likely to be close friends with someone that shares our sense of humor and laughs at the same things we do. We are drawn to people who laugh when we laugh, and cry when we cry - those who share our reaction to the world.

Our reactions to the world stem from our personality and our core beliefs. They define what is sacred, what is funny, what is important, what is meaningful, and what is abhorrent to each individual. These values are key to how we view and react to the world around us, most especially the people around us. What is funny to one may be obscene to another. What we value differs, and it differs by degree. No two are exactly the same. Most people have some things in common, some shared values, beliefs, interests, or desires. If you look hard enough, you can usually find some common ground between two individuals.

Deep thinkers want to have conversations with other deep thinkers. Born skeptics want to hash out theories with other skeptics. Sports fans want to play, watch and talk about sports with other sports fans. It's no fun to take someone to the hockey game that hates hockey. It is painful to have your enthusiastic response fall on deaf ears. In short, birds of a feather, flock together.

It's not an exclusionary mindset. It's not necessarily judgmental. It's just human nature, it's logical. It requires a lot of effort to build a relationship with someone who is vastly different from us. We have to dig deep to find the common ground. There may be great rewards for that effort, but it won't come easily, and most people don't have what it takes to work that hard on a relationship. It does not mean that we don't love, respect, or value people who are different than we are. It just means that life moves along more harmoniously when we are surrounded by people who see the world similarly to the way we see it.

We naturally gravitate to those that share the most sacred of our common ground. Friendships, marriages, and business partnerships that share a set of core beliefs have a better chance of success. This is not to say that we should find clones of ourselves, and only associate with them. We all need to share our strengths with each other. Finding team members who possess complimentary skills and talents is critical. What I am talking about are core values. When our core values are aligned with our team, then things flow more easily, and success is more easily attained. When we want the same things, and define success in the same way, we can move down that path more freely.

Relationships can erode when common ground is lost. If one or more of the parties radically depart from the status quo, it can be difficult. What was once shared is now in conflict. Resolving that conflict is a big challenge. It's difficult to adjust to a new way of relating with someone you have known for a long time. The points where you used to connect don't line up anymore, and the change is unsettling. This does not mean that the parties involved no longer love or care for each other. It's not a matter of allowing or accepting that the other person has changed, it's figuring out how to connect with this new set of differences. When individuals change, their relationships also change, as a natural consequence. It's hard to know just where the relationship stands when the common ground erodes out from under you.

This can especially be true when someone changes their political affiliation or religious beliefs. What are the two subjects best avoided in polite society? Religion and politics? That's because the emotions attached to these points run deep. They pretty much set the stage for an individual's world view. These type of fundamental changes represent a major shift in how a person thinks and feels about life. It changes how they react to the events and people around them. It changes their relationships.

When someone close to use has a major shift in previously shared core beliefs it can feel like a personal rejection. For the person that has not made any shift, it can feel like the other party is rejecting them personally, along with their previously shared world view. If they no longer agree with how you think, they no longer agree with you. If they no longer value your ideals, they no longer value you. If they think your beliefs are wrong, they think you are wrong. It's a pretty logical conclusion to make. Logical maybe, but not necessarily helpful. If the particular core belief that changed was what the relationship was built upon, it might be insurmountable. How can two hunting buddies remain close friends when one of them becomes a vegan and a PETA activist?

The person who converts to a different religion, moves to a new country, or swaps political parties is a brave soul. Breaking with the pack can leave a person alone and without any deep connections. The old connections are weakened, even if the individuals involved are loving and accepting of the change, they no longer have the strength of unity, and opportunities for shared experiences diminish. New connections are just that, new. They don't have the benefit of years of shared experiences and so they are weaker. Often people revert back to their traditional religion, country, or ideology. It's hard to go it alone. Making new close connections takes time and life doesn't stop throwing challenges at you so you can get your new support system in place.
In most cases, if both parties really try, common ground can be found. It might be a small little plot, but it is somewhere to start. When there is no longer any common ground, cherish the memories and consider respectfully parting ways. When you come upon someone newly landed in your circle, extend a hand of friendship and help them build the strong connections they need. Love, patience, and understanding go along way toward finding common ground.

If you find yourself struggling to rebuild a relationship that has suffered some erosion, or if you have just made a giant leap into the unknown and need to build new connections, a SimplyHealed TM session can help clear away any energetic blocks and set you firmly on the path to common ground. 


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