“Sometimes, when you don’t ask questions, it’s not because you are afraid that someone will lie to your face. It’s because you’re afraid they’ll tell you the truth.”
– Jodi Picoult
One of the craziest things we do in our relationships is think we know what is going on for another person. Oh yes, it is quite possible that we can judge, tar, feather, despise and walk away without ever stopping to ask what the other person thinks, feels, believes is happening or would like to see happen. In dysfunctional relationships (ones that aren’t functioning very well) there is a good deal of communication that goes this way. Someone tells us what someone else said, or did. They supply us with the reasons why they think it is happening, the story captures our imagination or fits with something we’d like to believe and so we jump in. Sometimes we can do this whole making up stories thing by ourselves, no third person required.
Well one of the reasons we do this is we like the stories we tell ourselves. We believe them. We get attached to them. We invest rightness in them. We don’t like our convictions challenged by the inconvenience of hearing what someone else might think or feel; especially if it might force us to reconsider our story!
We also very much like to think of ourselves in the most positive light possible. We prefer information that supports the theory of our rightness, truthfulness, wonderfulness etc. We also prefer to align ourselves with other people who make us feel good about ourselves, even if that comes at the expense of someone else. Even if the someone else is our mother, sister, father, brother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousin – or someone else in our family.
Sometimes we make ourselves feel better about ourselves and our lives by maligning, scapegoating and bullying others. Sometimes we know its wrong and we still sit silent, watching from the sidelines while someone else does the bullying and scapegoating. It isn’t attractive behaviour – but we have all been guilty of it. Yes, even you.
This is not okay. You know it isn’t.
You would not want people leaping to conclusions about what you are thinking, or feeling, or doing – or making up reasons for why you do what you do, or are the way you are - all without ever stopping to check in with you. You wouldn’t like it if people were saying rotten things about you and no one moved in to stop it. You wouldn’t like it if people you loved were determined to think the worst of you, without ever making an effort to find out if the worst was even real. Reality check yourself.
PS/ When someone bravely asks you about you, make them glad they did.