In a world that may seem like it is flooded with negativity, it is important to remember that we have much more in common than we might think. If we can find common ground for ourselves and the people around us, it creates a bridge of understanding, which at times can be hard.
As psychologist, I cannot stress enough the importance of genuine human connection and authentic social relationships. When we do struggle to find the common ground, I have found it helpful to remember these three rules; the first one is common humanity. Even though we may be different in our life experiences, if we can just remember little things, i.e. the loss of a family member or what it is like to be loved, I have found it much easier to form a real connection with someone I may not agree with.
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The second rule is compassion. I am not just talking about compassion for the other person, but for ourselves. Instead of jumping into your self-critical voice, i.e. "I am so dumb," try changing that internal voice by being kind and understanding when you encounter a personal failing. This idea of self-compassion can be contagious and spread to those around you.
The final rule is empathy. How I do this is accepting the other person's perspective as their lived reality. I would never try to question someone's lived experience, but find it far more helpful to understand it.
Corvallis (July 16)