There are a few expressions for it: Talking to a brick wall, kicking a dead horse, falling on deaf ears and so on. Just about everyone has experienced the frustration of being unable to reach a person no matter how reasonable you may be, no matter what proof you bring you are just not getting through. There comes a time when one has to admit that further discussion is simply a waste of time. Sooner or later trying to reason or debate with a person won’t do anything but make you stressed. This is usually because of a misunderstanding of some kind, a communication breakdown or there may be a series of psychological issues/defences at work in the other person such as:
Denial: The other person simply sticks to their claim that a certain problem, idea, concept etc. doesn’t exist.
“I’m not wrong, I am right and that is that”
Projection: Blaming someone else. In a debate or discussion you or someone close to you will likely take the blame for their failings.
“It’s your entire fault that I feel this way”
Regression: Reverting back to an earlier stage. In debates this is when a person continually returns to a valid point they made earlier.
“You still haven’t replied to my point X” even though the discussion has already moved on past it.
Humor: Making jokes, usually in inappropriate ways.
“Your lack of belief God is so funny because…”
Anything a person deems threatening (such as losing a debate) may trigger any of a long list of psychological defences. There is an even bigger risk of this in religious debate because of the psychological needs and wants religion fills for a person. Recognizing when these defences are being used helps us to recognize when its time to swallow our pride and move on.
Although we may seem to be giving up there are a few important things to remember:
- Save your energy for another time: This is one person in billions on the planet. With all the demands in our daily lives that require our attention and all of the problems in the world we can contribute to making better (like supporting charities or volunteering) if a person seems to be unreachable then we waste precious time and energy trying to reach them.
- It’s not our responsibility to change a person: Some experts don’t think an adult can really ever be changed to begin with, short of a major psychological event like divorce, or death of a loved one. Unless the person we are talking to is a loved one is not up to use to decide what is good or bad for them and this includes what is right or wrong about their thoughts, beliefs and opinions. Even if the other person really is in the wrong, they have a right to be that way if they want to be that badly.
- A little acceptance goes a long way: Accepting a person for how they are, no matter how much we might disagree with them, is the foundation of love and compassion. Virtues that should never be sacrificed just to be right.
Sometimes we have to ask ourselves what is more important: accepting a person the way they are or being right? Living with love and compassion, even if it means letting the other person feel like they have won, not only makes us feel good but sets the example of what being religion free is like.