Well ‘Houston Strong’ most definitely is as it says. I have to write that I feel very blest to live in our multicultural city that has busted at the seems in growth, yet maintained its unique sense of who it is. I mean the neighbor helping neighbor without much attention to class, ethnicity,etc. by and large has been amazing.
I have lived in the area all my life and seen many hurricanes, and also seen over the years the changes to our demographics, our environment, our ability to work within the confines of appropriate respect despite differing views. This has great implications for any relationship on a macro or micro level.
One of the largest initial stretches in couples and family and, for that matter, individual therapy, comes when a person realizes at his/her depth that perception and belief makes a huge difference. I can show the same photo to each person in my office, and a different response or perception occurs. What is this about?
It is an important realization when we begin to realize the same reality impacts us differently and is even often perceived differently. “We see things or hear or sense things differently,” becomes a vital and healthy phrase whether in what I tell myself or reflect to others.
Another helpful phrase when you truly find you cannot grasp how another could see or say something in a certain manner, might be “Help me understand that better…or can you tell me more about what you mean please?”
It is not to say there is no objective truth but rather I love to tell the story I learned in grade school…this is quite a paraphrase but perhaps the message will appear clear.
Six blind men were walking in a jungle and came upon an unknown living object. One described his experience and said it was a long thin, moving thing. The other said “No, not at all.” He then described it as a very thick round cylinder. Yet another protested, “no not so at all”. He described it as a very thin, very large odd shaped flapping object. And the story continued.
Do you possibly realize they were all describing their own experience of ….yes, an elephant? The first described the trunk, and the second a large leg of the elephant, and the third, the ear.
So with us, we all have an important perception which when shared with the whole, gives meaning, and a better image of reality than the one perception. We see things from different angles for many reasons, and while it could be childhood wounding, or culture or belief system, dialogue helps us at least come to understand the other better. We do not have to agree, yet when people really feel heard, there is a connection that is quite remarkable.
To take a reflection from Christianity, consider the scripture regarding differing gifts, the same spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-7) each given for the common good. Even among persons of like belief systems our gifts differ, and therefore the way we approach issues varies. With couples I often talk about this as a ‘divine design’. We call each other to growth, just as Imago relationship theory teaches, and well, experience gives us much evidence this is the case. We benefit from each other’s differing gifts and understandings.
It is pretty amazing when we can see a slightly better glimpse of the whole and much easier to understand each one’s perception was not “wrong” just incomplete…and from a different perspective.
Images here are from a prayer garden in Lourdes, France…from differing views.