Friday, October 8, 2010

There are 3 sides to every story.

"What we do know is that letting go usually takes time, and that it is rarely a simple journey. It's not easy to find a place where you can set free the pain, or shame, you carry from your experiences. A place where you can tell the story differently in your head- where you can relenquish the role of victim or villain, and give yourself the other person roles that are more complex and liberating. A place where you can accept yourself for who you've been and who you are." -Difficult Conversations, page 141.

There are 3 sides to every story. I know what you're thinking. Isn't there only two sides to a story? Well, let's open our minds a bit and we can come to terms with the fact that our side is not always the only, or correct side. It took me awhile to fully grasp this concept. Until I tested it out for myself. And by the way, I learned this all from a class I'm taking called "conflict resolution" where I have actually applied something academic to my life for once, yay!

Side one: So there is your side, obviously. The one you like to pay most attention to. The side you like to defend, and understand perfectly and often assume others understand it just as clearly. It's the side of your perception, which is your truth, even if nobody else sees it that way. It might not be right, it might not be wrong. It's just a view, it's your view.

Side two: Their side of the story. By "their", I mean the other people involved. Anyone else who was in the situation, or is observing the situation and could possibly have an opinion about it. It is how they see things. Recognizing there is a side two is a crucial step in solving any problem. I used to be one of those people who just assumed my side was the only relevant and correct stance. But who is to say anyone's opinion is less valued? Obviously someone saw the same exact situation, but perceived it in a different way. Based on how they saw it, they made choices or actions to coincide with what they felt was right. It's very hard to understand this side. You have to take a chance with the fact that you might not be right. That you would have done the same exact thing if you saw it from another light. It might ruin your ego a little bit, but it will help you grow overall.

Side three: what ACTUALLY happened. Everyone perceives differently, as I've mentioned. But there is only one concrete occurence. But what you tend to realize is that is doesn't matter what actually happened. It matters how all the different people involved reacted and perceived the issue. It matters how it affected you and affected them. It matters if some information was left unnoticed, or if someone happened to lie along the way. Life is like the game of telephone we used to play in second grade. We go through a moment passing along how we heard or perceived something and as it gets passed from person to person, the story changes. It no longer matters what the first person said. It matters what got lost in translation, and how each person was affected by flawed stories. It is nobody's fault. It's hard to not blame another person when something goes wrong. But the more you think about it, the more you realize they must have had a reason to choose what they did. To them, it made sense. And maybe if you were in their shoes, you would have made the same choice. I know it sounds ridiculous and unpractical. That is what I thought at first too. But I've tested it out a few times in the real world, and it has actually worked in my favor. You begin to understand a person's intentions and star to have faith that the world isn't all out to get you. And they start to respect you once you show you care enough to understand their point of view when usually it is unnoticed. Maybe the world has a fresh view on what would be a better decision.

It's hard when you think you know a person so much that you wouldn't need to ask all of these facts. The sad thing is, you really don't. You end up being hurt by the people who were supposed to help. It's hard because trust takes a lifetime to gain, but seconds to lose. And once that second is gone, it usually is gone forever. Even if you say you forgive someone, you never forget. And neither do they.

I've come to realize that no matter how certain you are that you have all the facts, you don't. No matter how much you think you understand why someone made a decision that hurt you in the end, you don't. Ask them. Be ready to understand. Be ready to come to terms with the accusation of YOU actually being in the wrong. Ask them why they made a choice, ask them what information they had, and try your hardest not to judge. Sometimes a person makes a decision based on a lie they heard. And you would never know that to be true if you had never gotten all of the facts. Sure, it might not work out in your favor, but it really couldn't get any worse. A problem surfaces due to multiple people contributing to it. Not just you, and not just them. No matter what the problem is, even if you are obviously right, you somehow contributed to it, and there is a reason it happened.

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