Seeing Eye to Eye by Kristi Borst
Have you ever been outdoors with a friend and tried to show them something in the distance? You may have pointed … verbalized land marks near the object … even physically attempted to move that person to the exact space in which you were standing, to align their eyes as closely as possible with yours. Still they didn’t see the object … or it took a while for them to do so.
We can never see, react to and/or experience anything … truly anything … in the same way as another. This is true, not only due to the physics in which no two bodies can occupy the identical space at the same time, but also what we bring to the seeing, reacting and living!
Each of us has filters, blinders if you will, shaped by our life experience to this very moment. No one else shares exactly the same filters. Even identical twins living together would not have the same experience of ANY situation.
Moreover, we each have different capabilities and capacities. To illustrate, look at the range of laptops available today. If you had never seen a laptop, you may think the case is the essential difference. You may further assume that they all do the same thing. Yet, most of us who have a computer appreciate that different laptops can offer markedly different capabilities and capacities.
One laptop might have an operating system (OS) of WindowsXP, another Windows10, another Linux, another still Mac OS X. If we tried to manipulate a 500-mb image file on each of these laptops, we would experience varying levels of speed and/or delay. Other factors could come into play too … RAM memory, software and even operator experience. Similarly, not all humans are the same. When we disregard our inevitable, we can look at another and wonder: “How could he treat me this way?” “How could she be so insensitive?” “How come they are always judging me?”
“Sensitive” people don’t understand when others act without compassion. “Stoic” folks wonder why the sensitives are always “over-reacting” or “being emotional”. Quite simply, they are not you and are not experiencing the situation as you. Their reacting the way you expect may not even be a CHOICE to them! They are not seeing it, experiencing it, wired to respond to it as we are/can/would!
We are individuals on our own journeys yet we need one another. We do not share the same brain, emotions, bodies and spirits. Let’s see that as a good thing! Finding happiness in your relationships is enhanced through compassion/acceptance. Hurting you is likely not even on the radar of the other. It is also about realizing that we don’t have to fix anyone except ourselves … have you ever noticed people rarely appreciate someone else trying to fix them?
Rather than resenting that the other is not doing what you need, make your needs known in a neutral conversation. If someone says something “upsetting”, you could clarify “Because I know you care about me I want to clarify what I’m hearing. Are you saying ‘wxyz’?” [I don’t suggest saying “when you say that, I feel …” Doing so shifts the control of your feelings onto the other person and will likely put them on the defensive.]
This process gives the other an opportunity to restate, makes it safe to communicate and increases understanding . This process is best coming from a space of love … behind the physical body, behind the filters, behind the varying life experiences, behind the individuality … there is only love. It is truly what we are all trying to return home to and it shifts EVERYTHING!
This dialog can work the other direction, too. Once our daughter became a teenager, it seemed no matter what I said, she would heart it as a dig or insult. I could say “your hair looks beautiful” and she would wonder what was wrong with her hair. It seemed she always assumed there was some hidden message.
One day I gave her a compliment and she just huffed. Realizing I wanted and needed her to hear what I was REALLY saying, I calmly looked her in the eye and said her name …“I am your mother and I deeply love you. I am proud of you. I ask you to please assume that whatever I am saying to you is coming from a space of that deep love . It seems that you may be looking for hidden meanings in what I say … honestly, I am not that clever nor can I think that quickly.” She just looked at me (perhaps assessing if I was in fact clever and quick-thinking). In that moment, she saw the Truth. She responded “oh, okay!” Our relationship skyrocketed forward.
We need to step back from our intense emotions, taking time to ask ourselves “where is the root of the upset?” The first thing to ask is “am I expecting her/him/them to be me?” If so, acknowledge this is unreasonable. If projection is not the source of the upset, dive deeper! Look within; it is much more productive than “pointing fingers”.
For example, if your son’s failure to take out the trash makes you exceptionally angry, check in with yourself. This situation may be triggering a need for respect that’s from a different time and perhaps involved someone else! It may be related to feeling burdened in other areas of your life. Perhaps you feel exhausted and see this as one more thing you have to do? From a neutral space, you may see how little time it actually takes to bring yourself happiness by emptying the trash! When you look in the kitchen you may only see the trash; when you son looks in the kitchen he may never see the trash … the priority on the presence of the trash is not shared.
This “why are my buttons getting pushed” knowledge can empower you. It becomes easier to see that others only have the power to make us feel this way or that way if we have given that power to them! When we can step back from being reactionary and examine what’s at the root of our intense feelings, we seize control. We become the masters of our happiness and see others in a new way.
I’ve seen these strategies work wonders, not only in my own life and my personal relationships, but also in the lives of my clients. When we realize that expectations that are grounded in shared capabilities and capacities may be robbing us of our joy, this consciousness gives us power. We can tweak our view of ourselves and others in our life. We are always capable of change … releasing filters, seeing others (and ourselves) with eyes wide open.
Dive deep and realize that the only one you are here to change is you. Do so with love and tenderness!
Love and light, Kristi