Every person has a story, a point of view and perception of the world. Our background and our life experiences shape the way we see things, the way we approach life. Sometimes we have a difficult time relating to one another because of how differently we see things. We all have our insecurities, our strengths, and our weaknesses. You can’t understand other people and the way they perceive things unless you have the ability to imagine the way things look through their eyes. I think this must be a difficult thing because it seems that most people are incapable of looking at something differently. The thing is, we often judge other people unfairly because we wrongly assume things about them. The truth is, we haven’t gone through what they’ve gone through, and we don’t know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Unless we have actually lived the same life, or one with similar experiences, there is no way we can actually understand their point of view. However, if we can imagine, if we can pretend that we are them, then we might be able to better understand them.
When I was teaching high school I would often talk to kids that had difficulties with their parents. When we would talk about the major “issues” that they were fighting with their parents about I would try to get them to see things in a different way. Teenagers, especially, have a very narrow and limited view of the world. Unless you can break through to them somehow and get them to pretend for a second that they are the parent (which is extremely difficult) then they have a very difficult time understanding where their parents are coming from. When you find a student that is mature, and can actually put themselves in their parents shoes, then a light bulb comes on and they realize how their parents feel. They find common ground. The funny thing is, it works both ways. Teenagers and children in general can’t imagine being parents because of their age and their lack of experience. However, parents often suffer the same problem, except they have been teenagers before. Parents have a difficult time understanding their teens because they can’t erase 20 years of their life experience and see how their kids perceive things. It’s difficult to pretend to “unlearn” what years of living has taught you. That being said, it’s crucial for parents to try and see the way the world looks to their children so that they can better understand them and relate with them.
I’ve talked about my car accident somewhat on this blog, when I discussed my weight gain, but until recently I didn’t really express to those people closest to me how deeply it mentally affects me. While my family has known that I have back problems because of my accident, they didn’t know how debilitating it has been at times. Being in pain sucks. Being in pain for an extended amount of time wears on you mentally, especially when you can’t get relief. I hadn’t really expressed some of these emotions to my family because I didn’t want them to think I was just being a “sissy” or acting like a baby about things. So I just didn’t say anything. I don’t want to be THAT person that constantly complains, so I don’t. I’m not saying every day is horrible, I have my good days and my bad days, but my family didn’t know that I have pain on a daily basis until just recently. They didn’t realize that a couple of months ago when I went in to see my doctor that I broke down emotionally and completely lost it in front of him and the boys. I never shared with them how it beats me down emotionally sometimes, and they didn’t really know how much I still struggle with controlling it and functioning as a stay at home mom from day to day. The truth is, I judged them unfairly. I should not have thought so little of my family. They love me, why should I assume that they would judge me so harshly? Why did I feel as though I wouldn’t be understood when I didn’t even give them a chance to understand? It’s obviously a weakness that I’m trying to work on. The thing is, we all have our struggles, but how can we expect family and friends to even begin to understand us if we don’t let them know what’s going on?
The big idea is, connect. Connect with others by imagining what their life must be like. Let others know what your life is like so that they can try to understand you. Don’t get so caught up in your own world that you lose the ability to connect to others (in both regards) because you are so preoccupied with all things concerning YOU. The world is bigger than you and me. Show your friends and loved ones that you are trying to understand them. Don’t be so judgmental about other people. Don’t expect people to magically understand you. We do not know the hearts and secrets of others, we can’t connect if we don’t know what they’ve gone through, what they’ve endured. So if you are feeling misunderstood or unfairly judged by certain people, important people in your life, clue them in on what’s going on. They can’t see things through your eyes if you leave out crucial pieces that deeply affected you.
In saying all of this, I don’t want to come off preachy, because the truth is I’m writing this to myself. I have a lot to learn and I don’t have all the answers. I’m learning. I’m trying harder to understand those that I love, and I’m also trying to give them a chance to better understand me. I’ve got pitfalls and weaknesses, and pretending that I don’t won’t get me anywhere. Nothing has taught that to me more than having children and being a mother. But that’s a topic for another post.