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THE POWER OF "MAYBE" IN A WORLD
OF CONFLICTING OPINIONS
Adapted from the works of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

Susan advocated for the power of doubt in her book Embracing Uncertainty. Approaching life with the "Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong" attitude leads to less conflict and more positive energy. Using this approach can be a powerful way to adjust your expectations and truly understand that we have little control over how the future will unfold. Living with a MAYBE attitude doesn't mean we are changing our minds when confronted with differing opinions, it means that we have an opinion and realize that is simply that, an opinion. There is no one truth to follow.

When you live in a MAYBE world, you are better able to control being upset when others act in a way that is different than you think they should behave.

In today's fractured, opinionated world, it becomes harder and harder to go with the flow when the talking heads on TV are more intractable in their beliefs than ever, and when friends and acquaintances think it is all right to get in your face over a difference of opinion.

It seems that more and more people believe that they are right and must defend their opinion no matter what. These "know-it-alls" seem to live in a world of "blind certainty." By definition, those who live with blinders on can't "see" very far or wide at all.

This blind certainty creates tension and unrest in our lives instead of flow. In a world of discovery where we understand that no one opinion or way is correct, where blind certainty has no role, we can relax and let go of our need for things to be a certain way. This does not mean we stop taking action to create important changes in our lives and in our world, but it does mean that we let go of how we think it's supposed to be or how it should turn out.

Sometimes it can seem overwhelmingly difficult to deal with people who are so set in their opinions. Even if you are doing your best not to engage in an argument, verbal attacks on your beliefs create a negative, even toxic, environment. That is where the power of MAYBE comes into play.

Susan's techniques can make all the difference when these situations arise. In dealing with people who have opposing viewpoints, Susan recommended the "Blending Energy" technique. This is a wonderful technique for dealing with those arguers, who feel the need to berate you with their opinions.

The Blending Energy exercise sets the stage for you to be understanding, relative to the opinions of others. In the end, you may agree to disagree, but you do it with warmth.

The "Blending Energy" Exercise:
This approach comes from the martial art Aikido which roughly translates to "the way of blending energy." A blending of energy is what is most needed when conflict is in the air. A blending of energy helps us promote the idea of a MAYBE world. When someone comes at you with a strong verbal attack or vehemently disagrees with you, move out of the line of attack by simply saying something like: "Tell me more. I'm interested to hear your views about this issue." Once you have made your "Blending Energy" statement, it is necessary for you to truly listen to what the other party is saying and continue to respond with an attitude of discovery.

The "Blending Energy" technique is best used one-on-one. Use it to try and create a more productive dialogue by redirecting the negativity into something more constructive. According to Susan, "Blending Energy" statements can really help to create a true conversation.

Start with the "Blending Energy" technique, but also combine it with the "MAYBE Exercise." This exercise is more about how you perceive the world. It is a way to change yourself so that any anger or hate that is thrown your way slides right off.

When I adopt this MAYBE attitude, I am able to flow with the political news on television, the bemoaning of my like-minded friends at dinner and so on. This doesn't necessarily mean I will change my opinion on the issues of contention. And it doesn't mean I won't act in ways which I believe will create a better world.

The "MAYBE" Exercise:
Until it becomes an automatic reaction in your head, end every one of your statements of certainty should end with the word "Maybe." For example:

You can also work on creating a "MAYBE" world for yourself by adding these phrases into your conversations:

Ask a friend to help you by reminding you to add a MAYBE statement when you are speaking. Working with someone else on this exercise is a wonderful way to reinforce the power of MAYBE.

While there is no way to entirely avoid confrontational people, using these two methods can help you deal with the negativity and callousness that can radiate from a person limited by their beliefs. Learning to take your own opinions less seriously will help you deal with the strong opinions of others.

Maybe we're right, maybe we're wrong. When we use this approach, we create a way of engaging with people with an open energy and an eagerness to learn and to share our ideas ... not as if we know everything, because we clearly don't, but as a seeker looking to connect with others to create a healing answer.



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