The one discovery that changed my entire perspective on relationships for myself and my clients!
I've been curious about people and relationships for as long as I can remember. I've asked many questions, probably annoying many with them all. My nickname in high school was WHY! That should give you some idea. What makes people come together? What makes some stick and others part? Why did the very thing that drove my mother crazy about my father make my step-mother chuckle? Relationships once seemed to be so tricky to me.
No surprise that I wound up in a graduate program studying relationship counseling! We teach what we need or want to learn most!
I noticed how often people misunderstood one another so I browsed through Webster and Wikkipedia one day. What a mind numbing experience that was. There are so many meanings for the same words. Then add voice inflection, facial expression, and assumed intention to the mix, and no wonder people get all mixed up.
Then I learned about the thing that is so close to us, we don't even give it a second thought. The thing we do from birth to death, constantly. We do not even realize that it is the thing that gives us our personal experience of life in every instant.
We THINK! We think our way into love and we think our way out of love. We think our way into relationships and we think our way out of it. Every single person on planet earth has a moment to moment, personal experience of life and because we are conscious beings -- we experience what we think as though it were a universally shared reality. It was a big dawning awareness when I realized that my family members, my friends, my neighbors and my significant other thinks and therefore experiences things differently than I do.
That's right. Life is comprised of thoughts about our life. We’re inside our own heads every moment of every day, so how could it be any other way? Remember the scene in Woody Allen’s movie, Annie Hall, where he and Diane Keaton are on a date, walking side by side in silence? The narrative is what is going on separately in each of their minds, as though they are on a separate date, not at all with one another.
An exchange of thought takes place, whenever anyone is face to face with us, on the phone with us, emailing us, or even chatting live. Even when we are silent while in an others presence, there are thoughts being thought in each person’s mind. When you’re with someone, and something other than that person is on your mind, you might inadvertently anger the person because your mind is devoid of thought about this person who wants to be thought of, by you. As though you could help not having them on your mind when they’re not on your mind. Most of us have had the experience of upsetting someone because we didn’t take that individual into consideration in an expected way. What about the fact that the person got upset at us? Might that seem inconsiderate?
If we could have thought ahead and known that we would have been better off had we considered the other, of course we would have. It’s rather like pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. We think what we think when we think it. We are all innocent then, wrongdoing is rarely intentional. We can program Outlook Express to remind us of appointments, dates and birthdays, but there is no way to perfectly program ourselves.
Consider this: we don’t really experience the other person; we experience our thoughts of the other. You may want to read that again. In other words, they experience themselves in THEIR bodies and in THEIR minds. We have an experience of them in OUR bodies and in OUR minds. Therefore, if you were to say: “I know you better than you think.” That statement would be inaccurate. What you “know” of the other person is your experience of them in your own mind. What you're making of that statement now, is in your own mind -- I'm gving you my thoughts, my words and you are translating them however you are right now!
What would it be like if we could take a deep breath, bring ourselves back into the moment and dive down deep into our innate health where we get filled with compassion and we remember that we’re all built the same way? A beautiful feeling emerges, one of relief along with the ability to let go of the past -- the past is but a ghost of a memory that no longer exists in this world of form.
The ego (more thought) can get in the way from time to time and we sometimes get caught up in a bunch of preconceived notions and lose sight of the big picture. But the truth is, we all have the capacity to return to our innate health, where our state of mind is high and life is again joyful. When you realize that’s true because you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s easy to wait for the other person to find it again too; Given half a chance, it will happen. Silence with a strong dose of warmth and a pinch of compassion truly can be golden.