Learning To Relate Is Messy At Times

By Nora Lawson
Published on Dec 15th, 2011

In a lifetime each person makes millions of decisions. Our decisions are based on what we know, where we are at the time, and the circumstances. When these decisions deal with other people then there is more room for error. The only “person” that was 100% right with each decision may have been Jesus and I am not sure he would agree with me.

When decisions/actions cause controversy there are many ways to handle it. There is the ‘It’s your entire fault’ application. There is the ‘It’s my entire fault’ variation. There is the ‘I will ignore it’, “’give it to the universe’, and many other variations. Which one of these methods helps us grow?

The ‘It’s all your fault’ application is probably the oldest application. Meaning, most people have used this since they could talk. If one has dealt with young children then they have dealt with “I didn’t do it, it’s not my fault they made me!” excuse. As with any application of life skills this was useful at one time (not really but as children we thought so). As we progress through life this application is not as useful since it creates the me against them mindset.

The ‘It’s all my fault’ variation is similar to the above method. This one may be a matter of upbringing. Some people have been conditioned to perceive they are bad and will take the blame for anything. This life skill application is also not useful or healthy. It colors the reality of the situation and once other people are aware of this point of view, it can be used to manipulate or undermine that person’s decisions.

The ‘I will ignore it’ variation is also a method learned in one’s childhood. Many dysfunctional families use this to enable the family to carry one when one or more members had addictive diseases such as alcoholism, drug addictions, mental health disease, etc. This application is so ingrained in some people that they do not even recognize when they use it, however, as a life skill it can encourage the controversy to continue.

Each one of the above approaches to conflict is a stepping stone in life. It is a stepping stone in our own growth as homo sapiens. One of my core beliefs is that we are on this earth to learn how to relate – relate to beliefs, relate to nature, relate to other homo sapiens, relate to God.

So what is another variation that will help us develop a better relationship when one of our decisions has created controversy? Empathy is a method. Empathy is the identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. It is looking at the event without judgement. It is looking at the action and reactions as if one was a spectator. It is viewing conflict from 3 points of view.

This does not include making judgements such as “I wouldn't have done that” or “That was dumb”. Non-judgement is the key. Looking at all sides, checking the background, and seeing how the decision (which made sense to you) could have hurt, angered, or offended the other party. This variation can be difficult to do but it will assist in understanding how the controversy occurred. The empathetic method to understanding controversy can be an effective stepping stone in dealing with the messy relationships of humans. There are others that are healthy too.

Now fixing a controversy, ahh that is another matter entirely-and possibly another person's article.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Nora Lawson

Nora Lawson studied massage therapy at the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts and received her degree in Elementary Education at Salisbury State University.  She is currently teaching 3rd grade and working part-time at a nearby spa.

Other Articles by Nora Lawson

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