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love. soul. contentment  
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How much do we want to impose our opinions on others? To what extent do we choose to help other people form their own views? Does a desire to impose our own ideas on others suggest a desire to control? If we do have a need to control, to what extent does that indicate a lack of trust and freedom within ourselves? Does internal freedom lead to a desire to set other people free?

If one purpose of life in earth is to live develop ourselves to attain some kind of completion when we come to the end of our life, then to what extent do we want to interfere with that process in others? Would it be more helpful to help someone develop themselves from within and engage in challenges that encourage personal growth and evolution? Perhaps it is a little like the saying, don’t give me fish, teach me how to fish. It is interesting that the origin of the word educate, is to draw out from within.

Do people become more fulfilled, confident and assured if they live out of their own perceptions of life and are encouraged to develop their own thinking? Does it harm to impose our ideas on others and deny them that freedom? Is it possible that someone acts out a part, badly written for them, never finding themselves, when influenced by others? Do we want someone to be the echo of our words?

Would our communities and societies be different, if instead of trying to impose our ideas on each other, persuading, convincing or arguing, we tried to listen, understand and be receptive? To what extent can we encourage a friend to explore an idea we do not currently agree with?

Why do we feel a need to be right in our ideas and impose them on others? Is this how we value ourselves? Do we create an identity based on out beliefs? Can we become so attached and identified with our beliefs that we find it difficult to accept another person’s views? Does a strong sense that our ideas are right and others wrong give us the moral excuse to try and change someone’s mind?

What would happen to us if we did not try to alter someone else’s thinking? If we give other people the freedom to choose, do we give ourselves permission to be more freethinking?

Personally I have found my children have been my greatest challenge. The closer someone is the harder it seems to be to resist the desire to influence him or her. Having managed to relax more with my children I now find myself wanting to influence my mother. Where I have noticed a greater change is with my friends, clients and students. I now enjoy a much greater ability to listen, understand and interact in a non judgemental way. I feel freer to help in whatever way they ask, rather than impose my own thinking.

Copyright Simon Brown, London, 2011