John Legend produced one of my all-time favorite love songs, “All of Me”:
“‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections”
I admire that he shares the importance of loving someone despite their flaws. That when you choose to have compassion, you choose to accept someone for their whole self—the good, the bad, and the ugly. This applies to more than just romantic relationships. Creating strong connections with those around you means showing love despite differences.
This is especially true in matters of the soul. It’s hard not to get defensive when someone shares spiritual views that conflict with your own. But it’s also possible to learn how to respect others who are different than you. We need to recognize the beauty of the spiritual spectrum.
Listen With Love
My friend and I used to share very similar values and would spend long hours talking about spirituality when we were in college. We would share insights from inspirational books and attend group meetings that would help us more fully center ourselves. The similarities in our spiritual journeys created a strong connection between us and we remained roommates for several years.
Years later, this same friend is on a different faith journey. We see spirituality with different lenses and have many diverging perspectives that could easily drive us apart. But we choose to fight for our friendship. How, you ask? “The soul is contained in the human voice” (David Isay). If we want to maintain strong connections with those that differ from us, the answer is to listen.
Listening allows a peek into someone’s life—their struggles, their successes, and their spiritual perspectives. They are putting themselves in a vulnerable position and opening up their heart and spirit to you. Don’t shut them off by opening your mouth too soon.
Naturally, as human beings, we are quick to judge others, especially those with differing views. But if we want to truly see their perspective and understand their spiritual perspective, we have to learn to listen with love. How often do you really listen with the intent of actually understanding—rather than listening only to respond? I know I struggle to genuinely listen when someone is sharing something that conflicts with my values or beliefs. But I am trying to work on this. Look them in the eyes. Turn off your own thoughts and tune in to what they are saying. Learn to listen with love, with genuine interest.
Celebrate Similarities and Learn From Differences
Once you’ve incorporated genuine listening into your relationship, you’ll recognize areas you agree and places you disagree. Celebrate the similarities! Maybe you both fill your souls when you’re in nature. So, plan a hike or two and celebrate this commonality. It will strengthen your connection to each other and deepen your connection with the universe. Create time to bond over the things you have in common. Nurture your relationship by focusing on these similar ideals. You’ll notice the feeling of division that comes from conflicting thoughts slowly dissipate because you’re not focused on the differences. Choose to focus on the good.
As you bond over the similarities in your spiritual perspectives, you help create an environment where you and your friend/associate can learn from the differences. “Psychological safety” is the term used when an individual feels safe due to the release of oxytocin. This hormone is released during social activities that invite connection. When you celebrate the similarities in your spirituality, your brain is prepared to learn. And learning from each other’s differences molds our souls in a unique way.
Remember my friend I was telling you about? I’ve learned a lot from our time together as she is exploring a new faith journey. When I genuinely listen with love, her thoughts allow my spirit to open. I’m able to reflect on what I believe and allow some exploration in my own thoughts and soul as well. Additionally, I have developed deeper sympathy for my friend. Seeing the world through others’ lenses can be really eye-opening. Take the opportunity to learn from others. You’ll discover soul-searching experiences and a greater capacity to love.
Despite the differences, all of us are spiritual beings. Look past the conflicting ideas and the alternate spiritual personality. Allow your soul to connect with theirs. The world needs more unity, less judgment and division. And we all need a little more love and light in our lives.