Since I am in a mood that has lasted a little over a week now, and I have expressed it in several different ways trying to clear it totally from my system, it dawned on me that I have been talking a great deal about life. But, there are some things about life that aren't always easy to pin down, they are unexpected and therefore cause us to re-evaluate our positions. The thing that I learned about life is that yes it is a journey, it is comprised of decisions, and the consequences of those decisions, it is also about choices and the options that we choose as well. I have often told you that we are molded and are an accumulation of those same things, but we have also in our discussions in the past expanded that mold to include our experiences, relationships and environment. Now with all of that being said we need to talk about the experiences, the relationships that also include our friendships, and the environment in which all of this takes place. Oh, and I cannot forget our own built in filters, these are our earlier developmental experiences which we use to focus and color our experiences, it is also the key to our perception of things.
See in life our perception of things are what differentiate us from others, it is the filters that we employ to deal with the issues and circumstances we find ourselves in. It is also why two people can live the same experience and be in the same situation, yet have totally different recollections of the event. I know we talked about this in an earlier blog entry but something is telling me that it needs to be addressed again and maybe explained a little differently. Life doesn't break down into nice neat little packages, it comes on strong and fast, it is reckless and chaotic, full of disorder and did I mention that it isn't black and white but technocolor? See life is messy and full of challenges, it throws hurtles at us, and gives us a variety of options when we are confronted with a problem. Most of us never learn to change our perspective and we tackle each problem exactly the same way. Herein lies the problem, if we never change our perspective, which means trying to look at a problem or situation from every possible angle, we aren't actually seeing or comprehending all the possible solutions to that issue or problem. Life is colorful, full of excitement and passion, it hardly ever is just plain black and white. There are always variations of color somewhere in the mix.
A problem that I have been hearing a great deal about recently is about how people aren't acting in ways that are expected. An example of this is a friend of mine in Ft. Lauderdale has a boyfriend who was recently incarcerated for possession of Meth. Now, in Florida like Georgia this is a serious crime and they have a tendency to throw the book at offenders. My friend was in the hospital the night his boyfriend was arrested. As a matter of fact he had been admitted and had been in there for 3 days by the time the unfortunate event took place. It took my friend a day or two of scrounging and searching before he could come up with a way to bond out his boyfriend. But in the long run he found a bondsman that was willing to take the bond and accept the amount that my friend was able to raise which was 10 percent of the bond. Now mind you I was being driven crazy because I was on the phone with my friend constantly through this whole ordeal, and when the boyfriend was released from jail on bond, my friend waited and waited for him to come home. Well guess what he didn't and three days later my friend still hadn't heard anything from him. Then around 9 pm last night the doorbell rang, my friend was so excited because he thought for sure that his boyfriend had finally made it home. But guess what it was a friend of his boyfriend's come by to collect his wallet. Of course my friend was devastated and angry. He of course had every right to be, and didn't surrender the wallet. But he did give the guy the bond paper that showed who had actually bonded him out.
The long and the short of it I was called and told what had happened. I counselled my friend to curb his anger and divorce his feelings from the situation because he didn't know the whole story and only had speculation at this point as to what was going on in his boyfriends mind. I warned that if he didn't separate his feelings from this situation he would act out of emotion and make the wrong decision, and once that was done the relationship might be forever damaged and couldn't be repaired. I am glad that my advice was taken because at 3 in the morning the boyfriend finally made it home and they began to talk and a new side of the story was revealed. Now the reason why I am telling you this is because not everything is black and white. It isn't always simple cut and dry, there are variations and other players that might be involved in any situation. You cannot go half-cocked into a fight because you need to have all the facts in order to mount a successful offense or defense which ever the case maybe. See, life isn't easy, there is always more to a story then we know, and it is our place to try and get as much of the information together before we react. Sometimes this means that we have to put ourselves in another persons shoes so to speak and try and picture the issue or situation from their view point. I would also recommend that you try to look at it from every possible angle, because there is still more options available, if we just shift our perception a little bit and come at it from a totally different direction. Sometimes that means looking at it from a different persons perspective, or it could me divorcing our emotions and feelings from the subject. Or we try to look at it from an outsiders point of view. Whatever the scenario there are always multiple ways to look at each situation that we encounter. By accomplishing this portion you have removed your filters somewhat and have tried to picture the situation from every possible angle. But remember our filters are ingrained from childhood and cannot totally be separated from us. It is just a plain fact.
Next we need to look at the environment in which we find ourselves during the said event or issue, because that is going to play into all of this as well. Location, who is with us, what we were in the process of doing, all of these things go into the creation of the environment. This is also where we find the obstacles or hurtles that life has thrown in our path. The same scenario above would have played out much differently if it had happened in Atlanta where my friend and I have a lot more friends and a larger support network besides just the two of us. See, if we had been in Atlanta and our network of friends would have been involved there would have been hundreds of different inputs thrown into the mix and much more color added. By color I guess I am talking about drama, other peoples opinions and suggestions. Environment is not only location, but what we are doing and who we are with and who we include into the situation. It also includes their advice, opinions and unfortunately their emotional input to the situation as well. Thus, as you can see adding more color to a not so black and white world. Can you now begin to see how the environment plays a part in the situation and crisis at hand? I think you can.
Let's talk about our friends and relationships a little bit more here, because as I have told you before we are creatures of habit, unfortunately we are each have patterns that are discernible if one knows how to look for them. These patterns are the routines, habits and the way we react to stress and crisis situations. Rarely if ever do we break from these patterns, because they are ingrained into us just like our filters are. As a matter of fact I think the patterns and filters are created exactly the same way. See our patterns and filters are how we see and react to situations as they occur in our life. They are what we are taught by our parents and built on by the events and circumstances of growing up. Trust me when I say that they are very closely tied to one another. Our reactions to situation are because of the way we see them and compare them to events of our past. Which is why if broken down you will find that they are the accumulation of the events and situations you have lived through from childhood to adulthood. We have to learn how to not only shift our perception or change our filtering, we also have to change our reaction to situations which means changing or breaking the pattern. I believe that this is accomplished mainly by divorcing ourselves emotionally from the situation which then allows us to come at the same situation through logic and understanding. In other words we use our brains and think about it, the whole situation and circumstances before making any type of choice or decision. This also means finding out all the facts and all the variables and players and as much information we can get on the the situation. You also have to take into account that as humans we are very quick to make snap judgments. We have a tendency to expect people to react and act to any given situation exactly the way we would. Guess what that rarely if ever happens. Because see they were raised differently from you, their filters and patterns are no way going to be anywhere like yours. Further, we don't know their side of the story, we only know what we have seen, experience and been told. If we rush our judgment and expect them to react as we would then we are truly going to be disappointed. Because like all judgments they rarely are accurate or correct.
What I am trying to say to you is this no two people are going to react or do the same things in the same situation, each one of them is going to do what they always do, they normally react the way they have been programmed and we can't expect them to even see the situation in the same light as we do. Let me try and explain this to you a little further, see when you meet someone for the first time you build an image of them in your mind, you populate that image with what you honestly think that person is like. We judge them so to speak and we expect them to be that image, when they fail to live up to it or react differently than we have thought they should we are disappointed, the image is shattered and we have to start from scratch. The reason why I am tell you this is because we all do it. We all create these images in our minds of the person we think they are, and until we actually get to really know them, they honestly can't possibly live up to those images because we have based them on our own information (filters and patterns). As we get to know them better, and we finally begin to see behind that mask that they are wearing we can then start to piece together their patterns and we can then predict with fair accuracy how they are going to react in situations. See each of us has a mask that we wear, it is our public persona, it shields us from hurt and I think it is who we really would like to be. You can check out my earlier entry on masks, it is why a person seems to change as we get to know them. But, honestly I think it is only part of the reason why a person seems to change the more we get to know them.
Think back and be honest with yourself. When we meet someone new during that first meeting we get an initial impression of the person, and then we embellish it and we create our mental image of that person, the more we hang out with that person, the more we get to know them the more they shift from that image we have made of them, we also begin to see the person behind the mask, those two things combined is why a person appears to change from the person we first me. In relationships we call that the honeymoon period. It is the length of time we start discover the persons true self and start peering behind the mask that they have been wearing. Now of course the same thing happens for them, they begin to glimpse and see the real you, and they two have to re-evaluate their mental image of you, because trust me it is very rare we ever get that image right the first time around unless it truly is real love.
So you might be asking yourself at this point where is he going with all of this? What is the point in telling us all of this stuff? The point is this my friend, life is more than a series of decisions and choices, it is more than just the relationships and friendships it is alive, it is vibrant and it is something that cannot be pictured in just black and white. Not everyone is going to handle a situation the same way you do. Nor are they going to react to stress and drama, roadblocks and issues the same way you will. You can't expect them too. Finally the last point that I want to bring out is that we never truly know or understand the minds of other people. So how can we expect them to think and react exactly like we would. Because like I have pointed out over and over again no two of us are alike or can be alike because our filters, environments, experiences, friendships, networks and everything else are totally different. So again, my advice to you is don't be quick to judge anyone. Get to know the whole story and situation before you react. Don't expect someone to react the same way you would. They aren't you and they don't think like you.
Also, besides all of this you have to take in the maturity level of the person. Not their age, because each of us develops and matures at different paces. you cannot think that just because someone is 40 years old that they should act a certain way. Age usually has very little to do with maturity level. Along with maturity comes wisdom, so keep that in mind as well.
What I want you to actually take away from this is that life is not a pretty picture that can be broken down into cut and dry pieces nor is it always black and white. People act and react differently to situations and circumstances and there are reasons why they do. How can you get past these, by divorcing your emotions and feelings from each and every situation and coming at it with pure logic. Thus stripping your filters and shifting your perspective so that you can see the situation from every possible angle.
There is one little tidbit that I neglected to share with you and that is simply this, in a relationship two people will grow closer to one another and over the years they will begin to see things alike. The longer they are together the more their filters and perceptions change and they become one. So if you have a couple that have been together for 50 years the chances are that they know each other so well they can predict and know how the other is going to react. Now with that being said, it doesn't happen overnight and it takes years and years for it to happen...and actually I think it may also occur with long standing friendships as well. Whenever you really get to know someone and spend years of time with them you are going to know how they are going to react. Just wanted to throw that in there to confuse this just a little more..because like I said nothing in life is cut and dry, black or white...there is always a splash of color thrown in somewhere and there is always an exception to the rules.
As always my hopes and dreams are with you,