The Virtue of Understanding

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Junior School Counsellor, Tessa Lloyd, shares with us the Virtue of the month for March/April 2012.

What would the world be like if we were all able to understand each other?   A better place, of course.  Understanding is a beautiful virtue to cultivate.  It brings our minds into a state of focus and attunement.  Understanding aligns our thinking and our feeling.  It unites our hearts and minds.

The more we try to understand, the more open we are to possibility.  We don’t jump to conclusions.  We use astute observation skills, we concentrate, and we resist distractions.  We see the whole picture.  As a result, we have greater insights and wonderful ideas.  People around us feel noticed, respected and heard.

When differences and conflict arises, understanding helps us show compassion.   We are more able to forgive the mistakes of others, and those we make ourselves.  It means that we can use empathy and put ourselves in the shoes of the other person.  We understand them and we are also more understanding of ourselves.

Kahlil Gibran said “The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you.  Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather what he does not say.”   Understanding requires us to go beyond the surface of what we see and hear and to seek a deeper meaning.

Understanding requires work.  It’s not quick and easy.  It often involves the pursuit of conflicting perspectives.  It requires us to look for missing pieces and to challenge ourselves.  Dale Carnegie wrote that “…any fool can criticise, condemn, complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding”.

Let’s help our children engage their reflective minds and use their compassionate hearts.   Let’s help them to look, listen, think… and understand.

Ask your children what understanding would look like if…

Your brother gets more attention than you?

Your mother has been really irritable all week?

You are not invited to a birthday party?

Your teacher has changed the day for you to do your presentation?

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Becky Anderson
Becky Anderson is Director of the Junior School. She has also held the position of Director of Leadership Development at SMUS.

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