When I was thirteen my parents were told by my teachers that I wasn’t smart enough for grammar school and that I’d be better off staying where I was, “a big fish in a small pond”.
Only years later, long after I had completed three further years of academically lethargic schooling did it occur to me that the thing most likely to happen to a big fish in a small pool is boredom.
I don’t know why my parents accepted the “write off” they received from my school but I often wished they had fought a bit harder for me. Not least because they might have helped me realise sooner that I was worth fighting for.
Looking at the world through someone else’s eyes is hard but necessary when we want the best for them and, when it is someone you love, it’s generally best for you too.
Listening to the constantly enlightening Esther Perel a couple are engaged in the classic “yes but” conversation. Neither properly listening to the other so devoted to being right and, in so doing, perpetuating the trouble which has brought their relationship to the edge.
What a difference it can make to have someone put our needs first. Not because we are unable to do so ourselves but because of what it does to strengthen a relationship and the damage it causes if we are never taught that we are important.
Would you rather be right or happy?
Arguing successfully in support of your own belief regardless of the negative impact it has on someone you love is a hollow victory that will rarely result in anything positive.
Manoeuvring the Citroen round the tightest cornered multi storey car park I have ever encountered I am trying to get us out of Marseille on a still and sticky evening after a long journey. Inevitably, in control of a left hand drive car, I am veering too close to the parked cars on the right. “Watch out!” comes a scream from the back seat. “OK calm down” I scream back. Neither of us able, in the moment at which collision seems imminent, to see the world through the others eyes.
Later, when I have remembered to look in my wing mirror checking my position with the white line on the road, everyone breathes more easily. Amused apologies are exchanged for the emotional outburst and we recognise we all had one another’s interests at heart.
It’s too easy to overlook the importance of understanding how someone else is feeling. It is this which connects us when self righteousness and stubbornness pulls us apart.
Protecting ourselves when we feel attacked or abandoned is easy too, but when it is coming from a a place of hurt in someone we love we’d better take notice of their pain instead of concentrating only on our own.
I’m sure my parents felt they were doing what was best for me when told I didn’t have the ability to push on further and faster than I was already swimming. But the pressure I may have felt from their blind faith might have been preferable to the safety of the hurt I carried for too long without it.