We live life from our respective vantage points and have determined that what we see is correct. Deborah Tannen alluded to this when she suggested that we often assign noble intent to our own behavior and fail to do the same of others. It's important for us to be mindful as we navigate this thing called life. When I'm working with a client I will often have them describe to me what they see in the room without moving their head. They obviously describe whatever is behind me, that which is out of my sight. I challenge them by indicating they must be lying cause I don't see any of that from where I am sitting. This exchange helps them become aware of their behavior first and then their thinking. That what they see must be the only way to see things!
My goal with that exercise is to help them understand the concept of multiple truths. That, in life, most things are not so dichotomous. That is, black or white, right or wrong, or happy or sad. Instead we can be multiple things at once. We can be a father and a son, happy and grieving, excited and scared, etc. When we engage in all-or-nothing thinking, we distress ourselves when our frame of reference doesn't align with someone else's. It's this sort of irrational thinking that causes us to be anxious or depressed. Our inner bullies will convince us that if we're not perfect we're terrible, if we don't know something we're incompetent, or if I am unsuccessful then I am a failure. Learning to temper our judgments of ourselves and others is key to having healthier relationships with ourselves and those that come into contact with us. Clients have mentioned it is freeing once they can accept the idea that different doesn't mean negative. You can like mint chip ice cream and I can like cookies & cream, and we can still be friends.
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