Friday, September 14, 2012

Burn your luggage!

Being married for more than 17 years I know how bad communication between my wife and I can go.
Even the most positive and praising things we say to each other can be received as criticism or worse.

Why is it so hard to communicate with those you know best?


It really is somewhat of a mystery that when you speak with people who don´t know you all that well, the things you say are much more well received than when you are with people you've known for years - at least sometimes it can be that way...

It's a paradox and I personally wonder how it can be, that the people I share a common history with and thus should be the people who understand me best, sometimes seem to be misunderstanding what I say in a way that does not happen with people I've just met or people I don't see so often.

Your luggage makes you lopsided


The reason for this is rather simple - or it seems to me to be quite simple...
I think it has something to do with our common history.

As two people get to know each other, we move constantly closer to one another. And as time passes and as we tend to open up more and more to the inner chambers of our heart, we let that other person see more and more of who we really are. The daily face we put up in public to let other people see only our most positive sides isn't worn at home or when we are in such company that we feel at home. Then our mask falls and the people closest to us get to see our less benevolent character. They get to see the darker sides of our personality.

Don't misunderstand me here: this is a good thing! We must open up to someone or we will die inside. And even more importantly: opening up to someone is a way of telling that someone how much we trust them.

The flip side of that coin, however, is that when we show the people closest to our hearts that we can be nasty and angry and unreasonable, it does to some extend open a gap between what they see when we are alone with them and what they see when we are out in the public.

This gap can create some sort of confusion in the other person and make them uneasy as to what we really think and what we really mean when we say the things we say.

Imagine it as if we all have luggage in our hands. An empty suitcase without wheels. As we get to know someone, we put our experience with that person in the suitcase and we carry that suitcase around every second we are with that person. And as we put more and more heavy stuff in that suitcase: anger, critisism, shouting and the likes; those darker sides make the suitcase so heavy that our whole body gets lopsided. Following this we will find it harder and harder to focus our eyes in the other persons heart. The heavy suitcase simply takes our focus away from what we share in this particular moment and instead we tend to focus on the contents of the heavy suitcase...

Burn your luggage!


What to do? - Well, I think opening the suitcase from time to time and dealing with it's contents can be a good thing. This way you and your spouse or friend can talk about these darker sides of your personalities and maybe find out that some of the content in your suitcases are more based on your own misconception than it was based on what really happened and what was really said...

But still, I don't think this will be enough...

Sometimes you need to burn the contents and the suitcase along with it. Make a decision to burn your luggage and start over with a fresh suitcase... Some of the contents of the old one will quickly jump inside the new suitcase almost by itself, but the new suitcase will in itself help you to focus on each piece you put inside of it and give you time to wonder if it really belongs in that suitcase...