Starting with Maybe

One of the things I love about teaching is providing my students with the skills to start with maybe. It is a gift I have had to work on and am still working on in my own life. I have found there are some people in my life who because I have agreed with what they said most of the time, I tend to start by believing what they say all the time. Conversely, there have been those in my life with whom I have disagreed the majority of the time, so with them I found it easy to disagree with whatever they have to say before they say it. All this changed for me when I started teaching critical thinking skills to my students.
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Listening with a discerning spirit.

My wife has a saying, “opinions are like assholes, we all have them, and they stink.” So perhaps that was not the most spiritual way to start with what is in my heart today, but in many respects, it is true. It seems to me that way too often in my life, I have listened to and internalized the opinions of others without question. It took me a while to come to the place in my life when I changed the way I listen to the world. There were a few things that catapulted me into being a more critical and skeptical listener. One was a book by Henri Nouwen, Living a Sacred Life in a Secular World. He wrote about how when people criticize us or say something negative about us, we tend to internalize it as if it were fact. Conversely, when someone pays a compliment or gives us an affirmation, we question there motives behind that. What do they want? Why are they saying these things? He challenged me to begin changing the way I listened to things. I began critically thinking about and listening to everything that was said the positive and the negative. I worked on no longer believing someone because they said it; especially if it were someone, I considered an authority figure.
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