Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C. said, “A friend is one to whom you can pour out the contents of your heart, chaff and grain alike. Knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
There are times when people come to us and tell us a tale of an incident between them and someone else. We listen and become angered for them, shifting our feelings in alignment with their position. Soon we are feeling the exact anger towards the person over something that never happened to us – but in the telling – our emotions have been coaxed, and we stand with our “friend” on the distinct side of a line.
We may even be moved into action on our friends behalf, passive or aggressive.
Then we find out more facts and the story we were told has been embellished.
We become angry with our “friend” and accuse them of lying.
The purpose of communication is to convey thought and emotion. When I am talking to you, I am not only relating information about the situation, I am , most importantly, conveying information about me. I am always in a state of explaining and revealing me. In fact, you would do far better in understanding life, if you would understand that the info behind the obvious … is actually the real info.
It is not always possible to convey both facts and emotions when just giving details. That is never the whole story. That would require the plane crash survivor to simply say, in telling their story…. “I was on the plane reading, the engine caught fire, we crashed, I survived. ” Instead, they will tell you about what they were thinking and feeling – THAT is the real story to that survivor.
So when someone tells us a story about an incident with someone else, it is often not enough to tell the facts – we can’t convey all we felt in that brief moment with just the words, we need you to journey with us through the emotions, so we embellish, talking and adding facts and words that may not have actually happened but were part of the drama in our mind. We do that, not to lie, but to have you understand the fullness of what we felt. It is actually to clarify – but NOT what happened, NOT about the other person .. but about ME and how I felt. I am sorting out what happened. I am telling you my insecurities and struggles. That is what I am communicating.
Our stories change over the years because our understandings deepen. We always leave out part of the “facts” because they do not flow with where we are. We tell what others have told us, we tell their understanding and knowing. Time goes by and we move and grow and the story changes, again, not because we are liars but because we have gained perspective. Listen to the real message.
You can’t hold people to what they said 10 years ago. People need room to grow and change as more information and understanding becomes available. That is healthy. When someone comes and complains about their spouse YOU have to understand that is the feeling of the moment. They are not always going to come back and share with you that on that same night the spouse came home with flowers, they talked, he apologized and he has been wonderful and in fact, your friend had jumped to wrong conclusions and he really wasn’t cheating at all he was buying her a new wedding ring for their anniversary. So the friend has moved on and you are holding the feelings of anger and distrust to the spouse. AND THEY WEREN’T EVEN YOUR FEELINGS in the first place and had nothing to do with anything you actually experienced.
This is why it is so important for us to make up our own minds about life based on our own personal experiences and interactions. You can look at someone and understand why they may choose to not be friends with someone based on their experiences. You can only look in bewilderment at the band wagon littered with the lifeless empty bodies of those that jumped on simply because the idea was going by … the “I am not speaking to her or having anything to do with her .. did you HEAR what she did to Mary????” Where is the integrity in that?
A child tells the things their parents have given them .. they repeat them by memory as they try to make sense of their lives… surrendering their own understanding to the” higher knowing” of the adults. Those practices do not disappear at 21. We spend our whole lives growing and evolving into ourselves and for some, stepping into full understanding does not happen until they are 30, 50, or even 60 or older. It may never happen. Part of growing up is realizing how fallible people are, how imperfect WE are and making our own decisions based on what we know and experience, based on what feels right for ourselves. And here is the big one … allowing others to do the same.