We Live In Separate Realities
Why is it that some people look out at the world and feel anxious, angry or depressed, while others look at the same world and feel secure, at peace, and hopeful? It happens because we each live in our own separate reality. We can look at the same situation, but experience it differently than the person sitting next to us.
It is quite common to hear one person say that a rainy day makes them feel sad and unmotivated. At the same time, it is not unusual to hear someone else say that a rainy day quiets them down and brings them peace of mind. You can see the same paradox with movies and books. Your friend loved the movie you just watched together, but you could hardly stay awake because it was so boring.
We make up a narrative about what we see in the world, in our partner, our children, our in-laws or our co-worker. Then, we unconsciously program that into our brains. We believe that story to be the truth, but we are the ones who wrote it. Most of us never question the stories we tell ourselves. We never check them out against reality to find out if we are on track or off track.
The fact is that a rainy day is just a rainy day until we decide to attach meaning to it. The cashier at the grocery store was not rude because she is prejudiced. Her behavior doesn’t mean anything until we make up a story about it.
The reality is that the cashier is a single mom who was up all night with a sick child. She is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. What are your thoughts about her now? Knowing the reason doesn’t excuse the poor conduct, but would you still judge her, or would you feel compassion toward her instead?
When we believe the thoughts that tell us what other people think or feel, we are making up a story and calling it reality. Unfortunately, we believe the story even though we are the ones who made it up. We use the story to react to people, circumstances and events and effectively build our own pain-filled prison.
I can only imagine how much pain and miscommunication would disappear if we all stopped and questioned our thoughts before we acted on them. If we want this world to be a better place for our children and future generations, we must learn to question our thoughts and teach our children to question theirs.