Bad Math

Bad Math

This month’s blog is confessional but it is also about almost everyone I know, so that makes it a little easier to take. The topic is something I see in therapy almost every time I have more than one person in the room. I call it bad math. My idea of bad math in relationships goes something like this, and I’ll put it in first person.

I explain a position or idea to someone with whom I am in relationship and explain it so well that if they really listen to me, they will have no choice but to agree with me. Therefore, since they still do not agree with me, they are clearly not listening to me. So I whine to my therapist, “See what I mean? She’s just not listening!”

So the therapist asks her, “Do you understand what he just said?”

She says, “I understand it perfectly but I just don’t see it that way. I know that’s what Raleigh thinks but I just disagree.”

So I try it again with predictable results. She still doesn’t get it. She’s still not listening. How can she say she loves me and be so insensitive?

Do you see the bad math; the formula that is flawed? It’s the one about really listening equaling agreeing. This is so hard to take for many people who want the truth to be one thing and that thing to be what they know/believe/were taught/have figured out. I see it in political debates, religious debates, marital conflicts, parenting attempts, and on and on. Frankly, my life and relationships would be a whole lot easier if everyone’s lens were the same as mine but so far, I have found only one creature in my nearly 60 years that sees things exactly as I do. My dog, Wilson, smiles and licks my face when I explain anything at all to him. Otherwise, I have not been so fortunate.

If my thought about this happening to most everyone is true, then the trouble is what to do when others just have a different perspective on the same topic. Surely, they cannot both be true! Well, I’ll let you work out your own religious and political struggles with this but in relationship, you better be prepared to face this problem from both sides and learn how to move forward, offer validation, and receive validation even when you and your loved ones disagree. If you can’t, all I can say is I hope you and your dog enjoy one another’s company!