When my daughter was ill with an eating disorder there were times that I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders and urge her to eat. Couldn’t she see what she was doing to herself, to her body, to her mind? Why couldn’t she see that I saw? Why couldn’t she see that the numbers on the bathroom scales were shrinking and that wasn’t a good thing? Why couldn’t she hear what the nutritionist was saying to her? Her rowing coach? Did none of this get through to her?
It’s only in hindsight and with the benefit of understanding how the mind works a little better that I now truly understand that we all live in separate realities. Of course Bea couldn’t see what I was seeing, only I can do that. Her version of reality is totally different to mine. It still is, and thankfully she’s now well and fully recovered.
How much easier would it be for us to be able to care for someone we love when we appreciated that their version of the world looks different to ours? I’ve no doubt we’d be more compassionate and therefore much more able to be more loving and kind especially when they’re having a rough time.
And what of our loved one? If they could get a glimpse of the fact that their ‘reality’ isn’t the only ‘reality’ then perhaps they’d be able to consider that what they see as fact isn’t necessarily so.
We are only ever experiencing life through our thinking, no two people are ever going to have the same experience. Going out to dinner for me is a wonderful experience, getting ready, deciding where to go, what to eat, the conversations around the table, the wine, the laughter. For Bea at the time of her illness it would have been a nightmarish experience. The fear of sitting eating, what to choose that was ‘safe’, the fear of being watched, the fear of having no control about what was on her plate. Two very different experiences of the same event.
Our experiences of each other changes once we see that we’re all living in separate realities. Just notice in your day to day life how people react so differently to events happening all around us. What is the truth? What’s real?
When we can see that the events themselves, whether that’s a conversation, a text message, a meal out, a colleagues behaviour, are neutral until we give them meaning then we can step back and not get so anxious and caught up. Our thinking alone and our consciousness which brings it all to life is the only thing causing us to feel either delight or anger (and every other emotion).
7.6 billion people experiencing life in a different way. That’s mind blowing and humbling when I used to think that people thought the same way as I did…
The original of this post was published by Rebecca Perkins on Medium.