Idea of the Month: You today, me tomorrow

| Linda Hutchinson

I have only recently come across this expression and it is becoming one of my favourites.

I read it in The Deep Democracy of Open Forums: Practical steps to conflict prevention and resolution in family, workplace and world by Arnold Mindell (2002). I would not say that the book is for everyone and I struggled with parts of it. But there are some great techniques and ideas which have stayed with me.

I have since found out that “You today, me tomorrow” comes from the Spanish “hoy por tí, mañana por yo”, and is used to explain acts of kindness toward strangers.

Mindell has a different take on it, expanding this idea for conflict resolution. He refers to “You today and me tomorrow” as a way to listen with respect, understanding and love to those who are distressed, angry, violent or irrational. If you have the mindset that this might be you tomorrow, you reduce the tendency to be judgemental and can truly listen for the subtle undertones and hidden meanings. He advocates that facilitators model this for groups where there is conflict.

Mindell explains how challenging it can be to develop this attitude. He advises that we remember conflicts in our own life and how easy it is to get upset with someone and start to blame them and think they should be different and they should deal with it better.

We have to remember that any of us can be the ones to be the listeners as well as be the ones who need to be listened to. I was reminded of this in our pieces on Camerados who base their work on the understanding that we all experience bad times, and we can all help each other get through them. So true.

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