When’s the last time you saw a situation totally different from someone else?
It happens to all of us and unless you recognize what’s going on, it’s one of the biggest barriers to connection and love.
In fact, this impacts not only intimate relationships but also relationships at work, with family, friends and even strangers.
We call this living in “separate realities” and here’s a great example of it…
Have you seen the latest TV commercial for State Farm Insurance?
It’s a good one but not because we’re recommending one insurance company over another. We’d never do that in this column.
We’re talking about it because it perfectly illustrates how we ALL live in our separate realities and those separate realities are one of the biggest factors behind ALL conflict in relationships and life.
The commercial opens with a young girl coming out of the house and is suddenly surprised by the cute little car her father has just given her.
She excitedly says,”This is ridiculous!”
A half second later the focus is on a man walking down a street to his car, only to find the car on blocks with his nice new wheels stolen.
He immediately says the same words, “This is ridiculous” in exasperation at what he sees.
After that, there are at least three more situations where the two characters in the TV spot say the exact same words only to have them mean something totally different.
Isn’t this the way it is in love and life?
Two people have a total opposite reaction to the same situation or use the same words to describe a situation that means something totally different to them than it would to someone else.
If you’ve got any kind of conflict going on in any of your relationships, we can guarantee that one of the things that’s going on is how differently the two of you see the world.
The conflict also comes because of how much you think your happiness and satisfaction in that relationship(or your life) depends on that person seeing things YOUR way.
Seems kind of ridiculous if you think about it but it’s what goes on in relationship after relationship all day long–day in, day out.
This is why so many people struggle with the question of whether to stay in or leave a relationship.
They mistakenly think that because their spouse, lover or partner is resisting accepting their way of looking at the world as reality then maybe they should get rid of them.
Maybe or maybe not–that’s why we created our Should You Stay or Should You Go? book and audio program to help you make sense of your situation and make the best decision possible.
Take Molly’s relationship conflict for instance…
She had been dating Sam for almost a year and they seemed compatible except in one area–her daughter. To Molly, family was most important and she’d drop everything, even cancelling dates with Sam, to help her daughter by picking up the kids or taking care of them when they were sick.
Coming from a family that believed you were on your own at 18 years old, Sam resented the time that Molly spent helping her daughter. They had argument after argument about it and Molly was considering leaving Sam because she couldn’t understand why he felt the way he did.
Sam thought Molly’s daughter was taking advantage of Molly and couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t see it.
The real problem is like all of us, they were each living in their separate realities and thinking that they weren’t.
Instead of listening with an open mind and heart to one another, they continued to try to get the other to think like they think.
Maybe Molly did need better boundaries with her daughter and maybe Sam needed to expand his thinking about what “family” might mean.
Until they see that they are looking at this situation from two very different points of view and look toward the possibility of compassion and understanding for one another…
They will continue to argue and their relationship could end.
So the question is–In what relationship are you seeing one reality and another person is seeing another?
Instead of fighting for your reality, we suggest that you open to the idea that there may be an expanded way to look at the situation that includes more love and understanding.