I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this graphic because it reminds me of the old parable called A Tale of Two Cities:
A traveler nearing a great city asked a woman seated by the wayside, “What are the people like in your city?”
“How were the people where you came from?”
“A terrible lot,” the traveler responded. “Mean, untrustworthy, detestable in all respects.”
“Ah,” said the woman, “you will find them the same in the city ahead.”
Scarcely was the first traveler gone when another one stopped and also inquired about the people in the city before him. Again the old woman asked about the people in the place the traveler had left.
“They were fine people; honest, industrious, and generous to a fault. I was sorry to leave,” declared the second traveler.
Responded the wise woman: “So you will find them in the city ahead.”
As both this story and the graphic so beautifully illustrate … we see the world as we are! It took me a long time to realize that ‘who I am’ and ‘what is going on within me’ shapes what I see and focus upon in the world. It’s sort of like when you buy a red car, you suddenly become aware of all the red cars on the road. Or, when you become pregnant yourself, you notice pregnant women everywhere! It’s not that there are more red cars or more pregnant woman, but your own experience shifts your focus and you simply become more aware of them.
It took me a long time to realize I was projecting myself onto my world! Our interpretations of our prior lived experiences shape and frame the focus through which we view and live our lives. For example, if we have been bullied in our lives, we might be hyper alert to any and all instances of oppression and may find ourselves picking out and noticing the bullies at work, in our family, at the mall … just like they were red cars.
From my own experience, I have learned that if we have experienced neglect or abandonment, our fears of being abandoned again may cause us to over-react unfavorably to even logical and reasonable separations from our loved one. We may interpret their desire to spend time without us as a sure sign they are not committed to us. As a result, we might find ourselves clinging to them, even smothering them and requiring so much reassurance that we unwittingly co-create what we most fear.
That is … they may, in fact, feel compelled to flee/escape our desperate and needy grip on them. When this happens, we become even more convinced that we were right after all … ‘they don’t really want to be with us’ … ‘maybe they never did’ … ‘maybe nobody does’. These ‘beliefs’ then shape what we see and focus upon in our next relationship. It can be such a sad but self-fulfilling prophecy.
I share this because the first step in shifting out of the pains of our past is becoming aware of the ‘beliefs’ we have adopted about those experiences, circumstances and communities. Although these interpretations are often imperceptible … they are incredibly powerful!!! They shape what we see the world … whether we are conscious of it or not! The good news is that we can learn how to ‘question our beliefs’ and ‘re-interpret’ our experiences in more empowering ways.
As the old adage goes “Be careful how you interpret the world … it is like that!” (Erich Heller).
With eyes wide open, Karen
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