A couple of years ago, I was listening to a talk or podcast in which the speaker said something about not feeling the need to convince anyone of anything. The concept got me thinking and led to my new motto, “It’s not my job to convince you.”
To me, this means there are people who will resonate with our ideas, beliefs, knowledge, or opinions and those who will not. For example, I can tell you I have a friend whose intuitive gifts I trust implicitly, and you may respond by saying, “Oh cool, I’d love to do a session with her,” or you may respond, “I don’t believe in that psychic stuff.”
There’s energy behind each of those statements. In the former, I feel the energy of a kindred spirit, someone who “gets” what I believe right away and that’s always exciting, fun, and affirming. That’s easy. In the latter, I might feel levels of energy. If the person states emphatically, “I don’t believe in that psychic stuff,” and a wall goes up between us, I know I’m not getting over that wall. At least not now.
If, however, the person says it with some doubt or hesitation, I know the door has not closed in my face. It’s been left open just a crack so I can say, “Oh really, why not?” As the conversation progresses, that person might start to waver in their statement and eventually come around a bit to my way of believing. Or he/she might close the door the rest of the way, and that’s it, for now.
Either way is fine. I’m on my journey, you’re on yours. It’s not my job to convince you of anything.
Does that mean we should never advocate for what we believe? No, of course not. I’m an arts advocate. I’ll talk to anyone at anytime about why the arts are important. I’ll speak and present about it too. It’s possible, though, by the end of my chat or presentation, you still might not believe the arts are important. That’s fine. It’s not my job to convince you. Why? Because your spirit is not feeling called to it. No matter what I say, your opinion will not sway, at least not yet. And the more I try to convince you, the more energy I lose and the more frustrated, angry, and resentful I become. Those are not productive feelings. That’s not the kind of energy that’s going to propel me forward in my advocacy.
It may sound like this advice works best with strangers, but I’ve noticed it also works with the people we love most. We can speak our truth, quote the experts, rattle off statistics, and form perfect arguments, but if our loved one has put up a wall, even a tiny one, there’s a barrier between us. At that point, it’s better to remind yourself it’s not your job to convince them, no matter how much you think your advice would benefit them. Again, we’re all on our journeys and must learn our own lessons. It’s hard to let go sometimes when we feel sure our advice could save someone, but if they are not asking to be saved, they’re not going to reach for that lifeline.
If this concept feels like giving up to you, be assured, it’s not. We never give up on the things (or the people) we care most about. It’s about keeping your energy high so you can do the work you were put here to do and care for the people you were sent here to serve.
These are challenging and divided times. It’s tempting, so tempting, to want to be that voice that insists people do what we think is right. It’s so easy to employ shame, ridicule, condescension, insistence, bargaining, or pleading to get people to see your way. But anyone who changes their behavior or view because you employed those methods likely did so for all the wrong reasons: to placate you, to avoid conflict, to project an image, etc. None of those things are permanent changes and none of them carry positive energy. Underneath all of them lies resistance. Better to let it go, for now.
On the right day at the right time and in the right way, if your loved one opens that door just a crack, you can slip your foot in and try again. Maybe you’ll convince them, maybe you won’t. Maybe they’ll convince you of something instead. But the energy will feel productive, and that’s how you’ll know you are both shifting and changing for the better.
by Teresa R. Funke
If you like this post, please share and credit Teresa and Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life blog