Sunday, May 31, 2009

We See The World As We Are

We see the world not as it is, but as we are.

This is a fundamental truth. People see the world through their own eyes and no one else's. The experiences of their lives form the basis for the lens through which they view the world and those in it. Native Americans have a saying that aptly addressed this most basic truth: "I shall not judge a man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins." We try without success to see the world through the eyes of another. The best we can hope to accomplish is empathy.

In our relationships we may have times when we need to be able to see our partners point of view. When we disagree it is imperative that we recall that our lens through which we view the world was created in our family of origin. A family that we no longer live with on a daily basis. The way in which our caretakers interacted with one another colors our beliefs about how we behave with our partner. If our caretakers were gentle and open with one another it is likely that we will display that behavior in our relationships.

But what if our caretakers were not warm and balanced with one another? We may have had one caretaker who manipulated and cajoled their partner in order to have their way. Although we may not have been able to verbalize what we witnessed at the time, due to our youth, we incorporated the lessons we saw into our memory. Over time we may have perceived the imbalance as weakness on the part of the manipulated caretaker and become intolerant of weakness in others as a result.

If one of our caretakers was cruel or abusive toward their partner, we may have unintentionally adopted their style, as we may have seen the abused partner as a weak and ineffective adult. Adult relationships are complex. As children we do not have the mental capacity to interpret or understand the nuances we witness.

When we enter into adult relationships we may attempt to correct the imbalances we witnessed in our caretakers interactions, in our own relationship. We must come to realize that attempting to fix the imbalances we witnessed in our caretakers relationship, by duplicating them in our own relationships, is not possible nor desirable. In adopting the patterns of our caretakers we are taking on problems that we did not create and cannot solve.

Once we become aware of our patterns and how we are duplicating those of our family of origin we can begin the long journey back to a healthy relationship. Breaking free from the patterns of our family of origin is difficult work that requires we become willing to see ourselves with all of our warts. It is not work to be undertaken lightly. It requires the guidance of a counselor capable of steering us through the maze of feelings and beliefs in order to peel away the inaccuracies within.

As we begin our journey we reach out to our higher power for guidance and wisdom. This path is one that many have travelled before us. We place one foot in front of the other not knowing where the path will lead, but having faith that we are exactly where we need to be to learn the lessons we must to move forward with our lives.

We use our tools to help us cope as we walk the path of recovery into light from darkness.

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