Growing up, I was the peacekeeper in the family. In times of conflict, I knew where each person was coming from and tried hard to get the other to understand as well because home life would be more peaceful. Sometimes my hard work paid off and tensions eased. Other times one (or both) turned on me, telling me I was two-faced, that I kept changing my mind about what I believed and couldn’t stand up for anything and, because I had taken sides with the other person, was a traitor and could no longer be trusted.
It was also very difficult for me because, for whatever reason, my mother and sisters were frequently on the same wavelength yet it seemed they never understood me, neither my reasons for stating things nor what I meant. They interpreted comments completely different from how they were intended, insisted on defining my moods when I didn’t feel anything like they assumed, and accused me of lying when I said they were incorrect.
One other result of this upbringing was that I started doubting what I sensed in/from others to the point where I’m now unable to read people. I can only accept what I see on the surface and, if anything else is going on, I’m clueless.
Despite that handicap, I’m still fascinated by people, curious about how they express themselves and all the types of communication available in this beautiful world we live in. I’m also intrigued by why they do what they do, about the mind and how it works, and the many things that can make the mind skew to this or that mental illness.
In the context of communication, there’s something called “active listening.” Have you heard of it? It’s been described as “…empathetic listening, a method of listening that involves understanding the content of a message as well as the intent of the sender and the circumstances under which the message is given.” ~ toolingu.com
As I think of it, and ponder world occurrences, I wonder if a lot of what’s happening these days might be attributed to people not actively seeing. Phrased differently, we cue in to things familiar to us and quickly shuffle through a mental catalog to see if there’s something similar, then file it away there, effectively pigeonholing it before we’ve taken the time to check it out. If it’s out of the norm for us, we dismiss, criticize, or mock, anything to make light of the discomfort we may feel. It happens all the time, although those of us who are a bit braver are more likely to give what’s new a bit more courtesy and respect. It’s not right and yet we’re all guilty of it.
Loved ones, our world is getting smaller. Every day that goes by shows us how similar we all are, and yet how different. By now, we all know there are areas of the world where people live in tents in the desert, while others live in huts above marshes and rivers, igloos constructed of snow, or homes with rice paper walls. Family dynamics are different too, as are customs and laws. Even when belief systems are the same and there’s a common foundation, the way certain things are emphasized varies from area to area and culture to culture.
Let’s not fall in the trap of thinking that just because things are done a certain way in our family or our group of friends, it’s the only way or, worse yet, it’s the only right way. Let’s not judge another because he or she is different. After all, there are over 6900 languages so there are bound to be cultural differences. Or, perhaps, that person is the odd man out in their family…just as I was.
All of Heaven’s best,