Friday, October 23, 2009

Common Sayings.

"We're just like family."

To most people, that means the workplace/church/sports team/hobby club is a wonderful positive place. But not for all. Last night, my spouse and I were sprawled in the livingroom, totally done in after a day of working on the house, watching a home-renovation show. (One-track minds these days...) The crew kept saying that - "We're just like family!" After a while, my spouse turned to me, and grinning, said, "Well, if that's the case, I'm glad I don't work there!"

As the result of our childhoods, we both have stong negative associations with the word "family."

It caused me to think about how often we use that sort of shorthand communication in daily life, to express an involved concept, and just assume that our listener defines that phrase the same way and therefore, understands our meaning.

Al-Anon was the first place it was demonstrated to me, that this is a faulty assumption. Some of us are skilled at pretending, but the reality is a far distant place. If I don't check in with my listener, and allow room for their reality in our conversation, I may come away thinking that there's only one interpretation of our encounter, and they go thinking there's only the other, and the two bear no resemblance.

True communication requires that we allow the other to speak their truth, and endeavor to be sufficiently open-minded to hear it. I know I had a tendency to just dismiss whatever didn't fit my worldview, when I was new to program.

Al-Anon teaches me to accept that difference, honor it, and allow it to educate me. This does not mean that I'm required to shift my position with each wind that comes along; bending gently makes me stronger and more able to withstand those more powerful winds which would try to uproot me.

1 comment:

  1. If saying 'we're just like family' brings negative things to mind, I wonder what you say. 'We're just like___.' Never thought about family as having a negative connotation before. Interesting.