Many of us believe we’ve got other people figured out.
We think we understand their motivation. Rattling off a list of their actions, including all our assumed rationale behind what they do, and drawing conclusions without actually talking to them.
We’re mind readers.
I remember as a kid, my mother spent a great deal of time being angry with my father. She saw him as a workaholic and preferring his business, to spending time with the family. This dynamic was my kid-like perception of their relationship. I took it for granted that she always had him figured out. She was right, he was wrong.
It wasn’t until years later, I realized I never asked my Dad his motivation for working long hours, beyond assuming it was to provide for his family. I had no idea how he actually felt or his deeper drive, but I knew how my mother felt and that was definitely not happy.
I wondered if she ever understood his motivation, if she did, wouldn’t she take it less personally? Wouldn’t she understand more, or make different choices rather than make him the bad guy? Maybe assuming or reading his mind suited her position better.
Not having a clue, I took that modeling with me into many relationships.
Thinking I knew my mate better than they knew themselves I assumed a lot of the time and suffered, because I gave their words and actions my own meaning and took it personally. Assuming without asking or understanding. I was right, they were wrong.
In my mind I had them pegged! Friends and family would agree with me and take my side.
It didn’t serve me. I didn’t win and I didn’t get what I wanted, except the reassurance from others, that I was right.
I never really understood what my past partners’ motivation was for actions that upset me. I never asked a direct question, because I was afraid. I couldn’t handle honest communication. It goes the same for many of my clients and others I’ve met, thinking we know it all, when it comes to our partners.
It’s actually a sign, we don’t know ourselves and don’t want the truth.
If we sit in judgment of someone and believe we’re perfect, or we think our reasons are substantial and their defense weak, our relationships are always going to be fraught with drama. We’re shirking responsibility. We’re making the focus the other person. It keeps emotional intimacy at bay, builds resentment and creates distance.
We’re too busy figuring out their motivation, so we don’t look at our own. It keeps us suspended in a state of reaction to something made up in our head. The false illusion is no one can hurt us or perhaps, we’ll remain in control.
Figuring out our partner can give us a false sense of security, inevitably they’ll do or say something unexpectedly, throwing our world into turmoil. Now, if we trust ourselves to handle whatever comes our way, we’re in a state of good feeling—even if the s**t hits the fan!
Isn’t the goal in a relationship about loving our mate and loving ourselves?
I’ll close with a few keys to getting closer rather than practicing ineffective mind-reading skills:
Asking ourselves what’s really brewing inside of us, rather than decoding our partners’ words and actions. If we focus on our stuff and doing things to promote self-love, we have more of it to give, instead of looking for reasons to squelch it from our lives.
2. Communicate honestly.
Communicate our true emotional state, desires and motivation. No matter what, we can speak from a heart-centered space, rather than making up a story in our head, which may feel comfortable but drives a wedge.
3. Remember, we are our own problem.
We look at the other person as the problem. And it’s just not true. Basing their motivation on our story of them, rather than taking responsibility, means we’ll repeat the blame game in other relationships.
Author: Tracy Crossley
Editor: Renee Jahnke
Image: Matthew Ragan-Flickr