January 17, 2014
Hmmm…do I really?
We think we understand, yet often we’re talking at each other from two seemingly different planets. When I meet with couples I see them individually first, and then together. In our first ‘together’ session, I can almost always sincerely say, “Well, I’ve heard both your stories. They bear no resemblance to each other. And they’re both true”.
What does that mean? It reflects the reality that we see ourselves and each other through our own filters. So we’re never able to truly and completely understand anyone, including ourselves. And if we believe we understand, that’s when we’re going to stop trying to understand.
In The Republic Plato offered one of my favorite quotes of all time: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
So the next time someone says, “But you don’t understand”, or “you’ve hurt my feelings”, I’m going to believe them, rather than trying to talk them out of it, or explain to them why or how they’re wrong, or clarify for them what they’re not seeing. I’m going to try to reeeeally understand. And maybe I’ll learn something.
“I understand.”…possibly one of the most loaded statements in my relationship with my wife. I learned the hard way NEVER to say that unless I have personal experience in whatever her concern is. I use things like “I hear ya honey.”, or “I imagine that wasn’t real fun.”. Funny thing is that has translated over to the rest of my life and you know what? It’s actually improved tense interactions because I’m not making any suppositions, or at least giving the appearance that I do when that’s not my intention. I’ve had to learn to be very careful what I say just so that I’m not setting myself up for more conflict later on. It’s even helped me in my professional life. Robin, you preach on awareness, and it’s absolutely true in every aspect of one’s life. Nobody’s perfect by any means, but if we can all try to be aware of what we say and especially how we say it even 1-2 times a day the impact is truly immense over the long term.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments Scott. It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to translate the learning to several life areas. The truth for me is that I teach what I need to learn lol. I’m sooo working on this one with you! It gets easier with practice but the truth is I don’t always want to understand. Sometimes I just want to be right. So I just keep practicing…
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