We all struggle in our relationships with others. We want to be understood and to understand, but something prevents us from getting to the place we desire in most of our relationships.
And, many times we find relationships where we just don’t connect, can’t relate or fundamentally dislike the other person. We waste time and energy lamenting these relationships, or trying to “fix” another person. The difficult person can consume our focus and zap our energy.
I have learned that the root of our problems with others is that fundamentally we simply don’t understand other people. We don’t take the time to examine what’s really going on in our relationships and instead we rush to label and to judgment. We don’t realize that we all have filters on the world and we don’t “see” others clearly, because our filters blind us.
One person’s life experience cannot possibly be the same as another’s and yet we believe everyone should see things the way we do. We come to our relationships with expectations and baggage and we emotionally heap them on the person we are trying to connect with.
In addition, our filters are clogged with different preferences for communication, different values and different views of what’s important. And so we waste time trying to get others to do it like we do, or see it our way.
The greatest gift we can give another person is to drop our own assumptions about what’s right and wrong. Refuse to color our viewpoint about who someone is, or what they do, with a black brush that says, “That’s bad” or “My way is better”.
The gift includes giving someone a break when they don’t do something the way we want them to. It involves spending the time to put a focus on the other person by asking them questions, by refusing to bring the conversation back onto ourselves and by using our emotional energy, as best we can, to learn what someone else is trying to communicate.
So much of life is wasted on trying to “fix” others. If instead we spent the energy trying to understand others, and at the same time, looking deeply inside of ourselves to understand our own filters and judgments, many of our relationship troubles would disappear overnight. We don’t have to like everyone but if we can work to understand them, we’d all be living in a more peaceful world.