It is impossible to know what it is like to be anyone other than ourselves. While we may think we know what another’s life is like, we are seeing their experience through our eyes and trying to define their feelings through our own.
Our perceptions of another are reflections of ourselves and our reactions to others are actually a form of self awareness…whether we’re aware of or choose to acknowledge these self-revelations…or not.
The only way we can really know what another feels is by asking them and listening closely. The flip side for this is true as well. Others will make assumptions about us, but only really know what we share.
A few years ago, someone told me that in her country, if someone said to another, “Gee you look tired…” the acknowledgement to that comment would be, “You must be looking at me through tired eyes.” I always found this response fascinating because it was a cultural acknowledgment of how we comment unknowingly about others real experience, while reflecting our own state of being.
Our tendency to be critical gets quieted down once we really accept that it is impossible to know another. Instead, we realize that maybe what we’re about to voice is a reflection of an internal conflict within ourselves that maybe we need to work on or haven’t really accepted — and that is why the other person’s behavior is disturbing to us. If you notice anger rising, it’s time for listening and questions. Two things that are difficult to do if we’re talking.
Would love to hear your observations and thoughts.
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