I recently read an article by Christian Conte titled “The Makings of A Peacemaker”. One aspect of his job is to go into maximum security prisons and defuse tense, anger-filled and potentially violent situations. He writes, “I’ve always had a philosophy of meeting people where they are. I think that’s such a powerful phrase, and I hear a lot of people use it who don’t acually do it. I genuinely make an effort to meet people where they are – not just in that moment – not just that one time – but in every moment.”
He characterizes the practice by saying, “I’m not coming at you. I’m here with you.” (Spirituality and Health, 54).
This is something I’ve consciously worked on and continue to. And from my perspective, like so many seemingly simple things, it’s deceptively difficult to do. Time after time I find myself judging, bringing my own perceptions and expectations into a conversation, a situation or a relationship.
Lately I’ve seen both the benefits of practicing this mindfully and the issues that happen when you don’t.
Meeting people where they are is a powerful thing. It’s the stuff that changes hearts. It does take a maddning mix of both humility and self confidence that is daunting especially in the difficult situations where it shines. But when you do it right, magic happens.
I see this practice as a powerful tool when used in conjunction with the Buddhist notion of “non attachment”. In a way, it’s an elaboration of that notion. A shift, a movement from inside to outside. When you separate your feelings and past experiences from your current ones you create space for potential and that is the place where magic happens.
Spirituality and Health. Conte, Christian, “The Making of A Peacemaker”. Vol: November/December 2019.