I recently read an email from my sister-in-law where she mentioned her “baby food processor”. When I jokingly wrote back that I wasn’t even going to ask why my babyless sister-in-law had a baby food processor, I found out that she has a “baby” food processor – a tiny sized food processor.
This reminded me of the Buddhist belief that everything is an illusion. Some things may seem very real but that doesn’t mean that they are in fact real. Our individual minds put our own unique and different spin on what we see and hear, so each of us may have a different reality when looking at the same data or situation. In my sister-in-law’s mind she was writing about her mini food processor but my mind read the words she wrote and pictured a “baby food” maker.
As we know, many conflicts are created by miscommunication and lately I’ve been thinking about the way our minds interpret information leading to miscommunication. Somebody makes a simple comment and our minds do all kinds of interesting things with it.
For example, just before Christmas my husband asked if we had kept any of the plastic containers that we get when we occasionally order Chinese food. I replied that we did have a few. To which he responded, too bad we didn’t keep more to send Christmas dinner leftovers home with people, after all we could have kept hundreds of them. My mind took “hundreds of them” and quickly processed it to mean that he thinks we order Chinese food way too often because I am an inadequate wife who doesn’t make good home cooked meals nearly often enough.
When I mentioned this to him, he gave me that “you’ve lost your mind” look (I know the look quite well) and clarified that he simply meant it was too bad we didn’t keep more because we have had more (maybe not hundreds, but more). That comment could have led to a more heated disagreement or just left me feeling slighted and him totally unaware of why if I hadn’t mentioned how I interpreted his comment and him clarifying his intention.
This little miscommunication reminded me of one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements: “Don’t Make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
For the New Year I hope we all find “the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want” and the insight to realize that what we perceive may be an illusion and not what was intended. If you are unsure or even offended or hurt, clarify. Better to know that your husband wishes we had saved more plastic food containers than to assume he wishes his wife was a better cook or that your sister-in-law has a mini food processor and is not pregnant!
Best wishes for peace and happiness in the New Year.