Is that Mine or Yours?
(How to sort out tricky human interactions)
By Julie Matheson
So often after an unpleasant interaction with another, I have heard others say, or I have said to myself, Was that theirs or was that mine? In other words, where does the responsibility lie in certain interactions when things go wrong? For anyone who cares about conscious communication, this is a natural question to ask. Conscious, responsible people naturally want to own their part in things and make things right when things go haywire. Further, how can we know where to start unless we first assess what happened? Asking was that theirs or mine seems like a reasonable place to start.
There was a time when I was so into owning my own part in things, I didn’t even think to allow the other person to own his or her part. Years ago in co-dependency training courses, I latched onto the teaching that said: When you are bothered by someone else’s behavior, it is your job to look inside yourself, find the corresponding issue, and address it there first. I still think this is a great policy: look inside first. Not only is it a responsible practice, it is also where we have the most power of control – ourselves.
It wasn’t until later that I realized I couldn’t and shouldn’t own EVERYTHING that goes amiss. One day a caring friend said to me – What about the other person’s part? It’s not always all you. That friend was my chiropractor (in Somerville, MA) who was also a skilled clairvoyant and channel. I shared with her an issue I was having with a friend, and she channeled that my guides said, “What? You mean, Julie is finally willing to allow someone else to own his or her side of things?” I laughed. It was certainly time that I did.
Moral of this story: it takes two. It may not be ALL them or ALL you. Oftentimes things get tangled up because of what both people bring to the situation from their pasts. An important piece to consider is that we all have a past, and we all have emotional bumps and bruises from the past that can get triggered in us at any time. When past hurts get triggered, those painful, unconscious memories can cause us to misperceive a current situation, and to make false assumptions. That’s understandable, right? Someone says or does something that triggers an old, buried emotional wound and WHA-LA, a misunderstanding ensues.
Wouldn’t it be great if in situations like these, we could stop the world from spinning for just a moment, drop all defenses, and ask each other – Hey, what do you bring to our current situation that might be distorting how you are seeing this issue right now? I will think about what got triggered in me that has nothing to do with you and you can think about what got triggered in you that has nothing to do with me and we can start fresh and have a conversation about what just happened? Awe, in a perfect world.
On any given day I can tell you about a client whose behavior is painful for them, and for others, and that when we dive into it, it becomes absolutely clear that none of the original events that caused the emotional wound were actually personal to those being most affected by their behavior today.
Okay, so what can we do about this, not just in a perfect world, but really?
1. We can know our own patterns and know what triggers us and why. It’s easier to know what belongs to whom when we know ourselves and our own issues well. How well do you know your own triggers?
2. We can ask ourselves three simple questions: What do I feel? What do I need? What do I want? And, then we can communicate those answers in a kind way to the other person. Just say, Hey, here’s what I feel. I just want to share. Thanks for listening.
3. We can ask the other person the same questions: What do you feel? What do you need? What do you want? And then listen with an open heart to what they say. We might learn something really interesting.
All easier said than done, but why not? The power lies with us. I do actually do this and it does actually work. The other person might be a bit shocked at first that someone is interested in his or her feelings, but most people are grateful to be asked and given a chance to share their side of things. Conscious conversations don’t just happen. Someone has to start them. That person could be you.
Julie Matheson is a holistic counselor and author. Her new book is now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle – Lotus Flower Living: A Journaling Practice for Deep Discovery and Lasting Peace: Untangle Your Mind and Heart Once and For All. To see if this book is for you, you may listen to the Introduction at LotusFlowerLiving.com/Book.