Opposite Viewpoints with Your Partner or Friend? Let Quantum Physics Help You.
Do you find it challenging to navigate differences of opinion in your family or with your partner? Is there a Grand-Canyon-size divide over politics? Or over approaches to health, gender, marginalized groups, religious or moral questions, and so on?
The “wide-divide” phenomenon seems pronounced these days. In families. In partnerships. On social media. So much name calling. So much blame. So much fear.
On one hand, standing up for oneself is a good thing. Each day in small ways, we are given the opportunity to be persistent about a request we made or something we need. Maybe a waiter gets our order wrong and we ask for a correction. Or someone misunderstands an instruction we gave and we must make another go at it, hopefully with patience and love.
There are many variations of standing up for ourselves. Here are a few more.
- Learn to say no and mean it. Saying no can be a good thing. If someone is asking you to take on more work than you can do, being honest about your capacity to accomplish what is being asked of you helps you and everyone involved. Another example is bowing out of a (time, money, energy) commitment you made that you’re no longer able or willing to do. “I’ve been happy to pay for your phone and car insurance for the last five years, and now I’m turning that responsibility over to you starting on (give the date). I’m letting you know with plenty of notice that you’ll be on your own to make arrangements to provide that for yourself.”
- Take enough time to make a decision that works for you. Feeling in a hurry about an important step is not a good feeling. One example is whether to leave or stay in a relationship. If you’re in a quandry about it, it might not be the right time to make a decision. Wait until you’re clear. Ask inside to be shown what to do.
- Give yourself permission to change course, change your mind, or re-address an issue. When fresh information becomes available, it can offer a new path, should you choose it. Let your body language help you communicate your confidence in the new plan. Stand tall, breathe, make eye contact, and speak your truth with kindness and clarity.
- Reflect on the balance of what you give to others and what you give yourself. Do you give yourself the leeway, trust, or encouragement that you offer others? If not, what can you do to bring things into balance? If you give time to others, do you give time to yourself?
- Know when to quit and stick to it. This is a way of standing up for ourselves. As Kenny Rogers wrote, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run.” When something is over, move on. This rarely means cutting people out of your life (although it can), but rather it means cutting yourself off from an old habit, quitting something that does not express who you are.
What Is Not Understood
Standing up for ourselves is a good thing. But it is often confused with raising our fists in the air and blaming others for our perceived plight. Look anywhere on Twitter, for instance. Finger-pointing and name-calling seem to go along with standing up for ourselves and holding our own. They are not the same.
It’s not that we shouldn’t fix things or promote change. I’m suggesting we skip the blame step and go straight to making change. That we keep our eyes on where we’re going, not on what others have done in the past. It’s way more efficient to use our energy FOR something than against.
This is what is not understood: what we do to others, we also do to ourselves. We experience the impact (the vibration) of every word we say to others. The person who pays the most for resentment is the person holding the resentment, not the person it’s aimed at. The person who pays the highest price for the hateful comments or thoughts about a political figure is the person expressing them.
When we blame others for the pain caused by our beliefs or the conclusions we come to, one could say our pain is self-inflicted. Only we can fix it.
When a conversation becomes unproductive and goes in circles—no progress is made toward understanding—how do we shift that?
Clearly, something specific needs to happen to break the circle pattern, something that lifts the conversation up out of the roundabout long enough for us to be able to observe the issue instead of wallow in it, or be overtaken by it.
There’s a powerful idea attributed to Einstein, one that could be taught in classrooms, businesses, and families. He said you can’t solve a problem with the same mentality or level of thinking that created the problem.
If we can’t see eye-to-eye with our partner, continuing to hover in the mentality of “disagreement” or opposition won’t turn things suddenly sweet. There are no satisfying solutions in the familiar right-wrong swirl.
But what about this?
If we lift up out of the swirl, what would we see? What are the facts? What did one person say to the other? And what was the response? And then what happened?
Each time I do this process with clients, the heat of disagreement dissipates and the person (or the couple) begins to see differently, more inclusively. New possibilities open.
In short, it works like this. After looking at the facts, we look for “add-ons.” What did we add on to the facts?
- Perceptions guide conclusions.
- Conclusions guide outcomes.
QUESTION: If you’re not happy with your outcomes, what do you do?
ANSWER: Notice your perceptions and question them.
Bring in Higher Intelligence
Another approach is to access other areas of study to lift up out of the swirl of disagreement, disapproval, or even grief.
Nature helps us understand the value of cycles: growing, blooming, and resting. She teaches us to appreciate a variety of weather. She helps us remember that “this, too, shall pass.” She also teaches us about death and rebirth.
The study of music gives us perspectives about our creative endeavors, and about harmony with others. In “Anam Cara” by John O’Donohue, he says “Creativity seems to demand flexible and measured tension.” With the violin, “If the strings are tuned too tightly, they snap. When the tuning is balanced, the violin can endure massive force and produce the most powerful and tender music.”
Turning to nature, science, or music for clarity about daily struggles helps us expand, lift up, see from an expanded perspective. Expansion provides relief. Instead of a continuing to wrestle with our keyhole view, we broaden. We find a more loving connection with someone we care about when we step outside our familiar view of things.
What Is Deep Truth?
Frank Wilczek won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 while he was a graduate student. He’s written several books, one of them entitled “A Beautiful Question.”
In it, Wilczek discusses the work of Neils Bohr (1885-1962), a founding figure in quantum theory and author of the complementarity principle. Bohr was fond of a concept he called “deep truth.”
According to Bohr, in ordinary reality, the opposite of a truth is a falsehood.
But deep propositions have a meaning that goes beyond their surface. Bohr says you can recognize a deep truth by the feature that its opposite is also a deep truth.
For instance, light is a particle and/or a wave. Sometimes it’s useful to think of light one way, sometimes it’s useful to think of it another way. Both can be informative in different circumstances, but it’s very difficult, if not impossible to apply them both at once.
That’s the essence of complementarity.
Dealing with Opposites
To do justice to the subject at hand, be willing to see things (at least) two ways. Different ways of seeing/viewing/understanding can each be rich, can each be internally consistent, can each have a language and rules, but—they can be mutually incompatible.
Yet, to do full justice to reality, take both views into account, because each way of seeing the world has its own validity.
For another example of complementarity, we as human beings are nothing but a collection of particles and light, AND we are thinking, feeling beings. These are entirely different ways of organizing our experience of the world.
Complementarity is both a feature of physical reality, and a lesson in wisdom.
When people ask Wilczek his religion, he says “I’m a Complementarian.”
You can live in harmony with others, even if you disagree with them philosophically by embracing the idea of “deep truth.” This requires that you “get bigger.” Lift up and out of your usual views. Get bigger.
If getting along with someone is truly more important than being right, give yourself the good fortune that a wider view generates. Pain leaves. Health improves. Happiness rises. Life is brighter.
Finding innovative, expansive ways to perceive our ever-changing, ever-challenging daily experiences can add value, satisfaction, and love to everything we do.