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I was recently at a gathering of women and the word compromise came up.  You  know, “we are having a disagreement, so let’s find a compromise.”  In this context, the word is very positive.  It’s about communication and finding that place where two or more people can come together in a place of peace and understanding.

But there were women bothered by the word compromise.  To them, the word was used in the context of, ‘our position has been compromised’ or ‘the strength of the foundation was compromised’.  In this context, the word tells of something being lost, or lessened.  In using the word this way, there is definitely a down side to compromising.

What a dichotomy!!

I have been consciously trying to negotiate the unique personalities and perspectives in my family of 5 and trying to teach my children the fine art of compromise.  Emphasis on the words fine art.  It truly is an art form to negotiate a compromise. How does one remain strong in his own values, beliefs, and sense of self while at the same time sacrificing a small piece in order to reach compromise; because in compromising with another, we are often required to ‘sacrifice’ something of ourselves, whether it be a share of something, our strength of position, or even our pride.

Healing Tree Image by Eugenia Algaze Garcia

 So how do I negotiate a compromise?

I do it by being a tree.

I create strong roots and a strong trunk as a base, and allow my branches to move and bend.  The strength of a tree is not compromised (lessened) by the flexibility and movement of its branches.  But; a tree will be compromised (it will break or even topple) in a strong wind if it does not have a solid base or if it has too little bend.

I want to live in a world of compromise instead of competition, but how, in reality, do I compromise without compromising myself?  Is it possible? I was raised to be a sacrificial martyr.  I was ‘saintly’ when I put others before me.  To give is better than to receive.  Not bad words to live by, but in always giving first, where does that leave me?   I am not a tree, I am a hole!

In order to truly compromise with others, we must first find and strengthen our own base.  We must know what is truly important to us and stand strong in those truths, while allowing bend and flow at the same time.  We can reach a place of compromise without compromising ourselves in the process.

Yep, that makes sense…I’m going to do that.  But doing it is a lot harder than talking about it.  I know!

My youngest daughter recently received some lotion as a gift and she loves it.  I means loves it!!  She puts in on and pretty much everyone else in the house is bothered by the scent.  We all have expressed our thoughts on this and knowing that she is in the big minority, my daughter still insists that she loves it and wants to wear it even if it bothers everyone else…So, I truly don’t know how to handle this situation.  So far I have let it be and let her be.  But I personally don’t like the smell enough that I want to throw the bottle in the trash when she isn’t looking. I won’t because I know that is not respecting her voice, but what of all the other voices? Do I make her get rid of it for the sake of the majority?  That doesn’t feel right either.  I want my children to have independent voices and feel the freedom to be themselves, and I want to teach them loving respect for others.   But I also want my perspective respected.  I don’t want ‘yucky’ smells in my environment, period.  Where is the place of compromise here without anyone’s voice feeling lessened or sacrificed? How can all our needs be met?

If anyone has any other wisdom around this or any other thoughts on living with compromise I would love to hear it!

Healing Tree Image by Eugenia Algaze Garcia

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