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In Agreement

You know that whole “agree to disagree” motto?   I can’t do it.  I don’t like it when people disagree with me.  So much so that I have considered “unfollowing” anyone on FB who expresses an opinion different from my own.  But then I wouldn’t have any friends and there would be no one left to read my blog.
 
People say that if we all shared the same views on everything, life would be boring.  I don’t believe that.  I work at a school where many students come here because they want to be around people just like themselves, and they seem pretty happy about it.
 
It’s like when people say that living in paradise would be boring after awhile.  Unless you’ve actually lived in paradise, you don’t know how you would feel.  There’s lots of research that demonstrates that we are terrible predictors of how we will think, feel, and act in the future.  Check out Stumbling on Happiness if you don’t believe me.
 
Nevertheless, I realize that my attitude is hypocritical.  One of my areas of expertise is diversity, which is about accepting differences.  And I’m pretty good at that in most areas–ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation.  But not politics.  And I feel completely justified in rooting against Virginia Tech every chance I get.  And if someone doesn’t like Roger Federer, I never forget it.
 
In my defense, part of the reason I don’t like disagreeing is that for me, it’s more important to feel connected to other people than it is to point out our differences.  If I go shopping with a friend and they want my opinion on an outfit, I would never say something like “that makes your butt look big.”  If they like the outfit, who am I to tell them not to get it?
 
But I like to be honest.  So instead of giving my opinion, I would ask them a bunch of questions.  How much do you want to spend?  When would you wear it?  Do you have anything in your wardrobe that goes with it?  Then they can decide for themselves if they think it’s worth buying.
 
Even though I don’t like disagreeing, I am not one to shy away from conflict.  My parents tell me that I should have been a lawyer because I like to argue.  I’m sure my previous romantic partners would agree.  In an argument, because I have an excellent memory and high empathy, I would use what they said–and what they felt but didn’t say–against them.
 
Now that I think about it, maybe I’m not that greeable.  In fact, I’ve been making arguments in this post on agreement.  But that’s OK.  We like to think of things as being mutually exclusive but the truth is, we can be both, depending on the circumstances.
 
In this moment, as I mourn Federer’s loss against Nadal in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, I’m feeling pretty disagreeable.  So if you see me today, proceed with caution.
 

 

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

7 responses »

  1. Perhaps it depends on the subject.
    One of my best friends and I got to be close friends because of our mutual interest in several events in which we both participated. It was almost a year later when we discovered that we are 180 deg apart on matters relating to politics.
    We mutually decided that our friendship was more important to us than any potential differences in politics. So we almost never discuss that subject.
    Have we agreed to disagree? Maybe we just felt that it wasn't worth the effort to attempt to convert the other to our way of thinking?
    Whatever the label, our friendship thrives.

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  2. That's the approach I take, too. I just try not to talk about it. And if someone says something I don't agree with, I don't respond.

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  3. When I get to paradise I will let you know. But, it will be in a very meek, peaceful manner.

    I think you have raised a lot of questions, it is the constant scourge of being human, trying to be polite to others and true to ourselves. I know I can't pull it off.

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  4. I agree with you in so many ways. But at the same time I try to control myself, LOL
    I usually think that I'm OK with people disagreeing with me but secretly I'm not. And many times it's even secret from myself. I think it's a human thing, to look for people who agree with us and live with them, that is how you form societies.

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  5. Thanks, Tim. And definitely let me know if you get sick of paradise when you get there.

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  6. I’m fine with most things and not getting caught up in differences of opinions and I lean towards not rocking the boat publicly on most subject matters. Politics or religion? In those arenas I tend to be too opinionated and thankfully my rants have remained within family circles 🙂

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