The heart of a person is never operating in a way that is fully visible to others. Remember this in all your personal interactions.
Each person has a series of experiences in their past that influence their feelings in any given moment. From birth onward they have had feelings, emotions, experiences that have shaped them into the person they are today. As you have been shaped by your life, you must understand that every person around you has also been shaped by theirs. Can you find an understanding place within you so that you accept every other person just as they are without judgment or analysis or condemnation?
Think of a recent interaction with someone that you wish had gone differently. This doesn’t necessarily mean an angry confrontation or anything you would deem negative, just something that you wish had taken a different path. Now think of that person as a little child in that situation, where they were probably operating from a position where they didn’t have the same information that you had about that situation. Might you see that their choices were based on only the information that they had at the time, not on what you knew or had experience with, but only on their limited experience? Perhaps it triggered a remembrance of something they had already experienced and so they responded as they had before. Or perhaps they chose a different response to seek a different result.
When you try on the perspective of another person, you are working from a place where you have all the insights of your perspective but can see that they might have been looking at things differently. We hope that this gives you a feeling of understanding and comprehension of what is going on in any interaction.
Other people are not you. They have a different way of seeing life and themselves. They are the product of all their experiences to date and they can only look through the lens of those experiences. You have not had the same experiences. Your lens is not the same as theirs. You must understand this if your interpersonal relationships are to be successful.
Some people teach that you must learn to forgive, but the definition of forgiveness does not come from this place of understanding. You have no obligation to become a doormat to others, or to forgive something that has injured or harmed you. Forgiveness is not saying, ‘It’s all right,’ although that is how many interpret forgiveness.
True forgiveness is the understanding that there is nothing to forgive, in this old sense of the word. Everybody is doing the best they can with the resources they have at any given moment. You might wish they had more or different resources, but they are doing the best they can. Forgiveness from this perspective means ‘I understand that you are looking through your personal lens and I choose not to take into myself the energy of owning your choices and your perspective.’ When you make a decision about how you will react, how you respond to something, you are choosing whether to take that trigger into yourself or let it pass through.
At the same time you must decide whether or not you are going to place yourself in this situation again in the future. Too many times it is easier to let something go that has disturbed you, allow feelings of anger or resentment or worse fester within you, and yet you do not make the choice to distance yourself from the other person. Or you do not express appropriately the feelings that you are having to inform that person [and, thus, to give them more resources/information] so that they can make the choice to change their behavior if they wish.
Relationships are not about two people always seeing eye to eye because no two people have had the same experiences to bring to their connection with each other. Relationships that thrive do so because each individual has found a way to remain their own person while allowing the other person to also remain an individual, different but agreeing on seeing things through different, very personal lenses.
Remember this in all your interactions with others!
And so it is.
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