Lately I was really annoyed with some of my student colleagues. We are having our first class, that’s really only about therapy & co and I find it really cool, because that’s what I want to do later. We can choose between 5 profiles, so you really don’t have to do this class unless you’re interested in becoming a therapist. And what do they do to annoy me?
They make fun of the techniques we learn. They make fun of that we learn not to form snap hypothesis and diagnosis, but to ask questions and really understand the problem, and that’s not cool and doesn’t really sound smart assed like the psychotherapists on TV (e.g. Roger in Friends, Season 1, The One With The Boobies, 13, couldn’t find a link…).
It’s like in school or kindergarten – what the teacher says it’s just sooo not cool. It’s exactly like when you learn about the human body and reproductive organs and everybody is just giggling and makes fun of you, if you say the things like there are without giggling.
Making a psychotherapeutic conversation is surely not fun and cool, we don’t learn how to write a good script for a TV-Show and you would sound geeky if you do it with your friends, but it’s also not supposed to be fun, cool or smart assed. It’s supposed to help people and if you want to be a therapist, you better learn it and understand it, otherwise just don’t go to that class! We’re not in school anymore, drop the bullshit!
So – let’s go to the big picture:
I was rethinking my concept of understanding a lot lately. I always thought of my self as someone, who wants and tries to understand everything all the time, that’s why I’m always asking questions and most people are annoyed by that, especially my teachers. That’s also why most therapeutic techniques sound kind of natural to me and I thought: “Great, I got the idea :)”.
But lately I’ve noticed that it’s not that simple at all. What comes naturally to me is the desire to adjust everything to my view of the world, to find its right place and that desire is pretty much universal to all people.
So I’m talking to someone, I say what I’ve understood from his tellings and we usually come to the aha(or yeah)-moment: “Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve meant, I’m so glad that you understand me”. That moment is also the cue for putting a check-mark next to the “understood?” mental box and everything is all right.
The catch is, that I have to have that moment too and sometimes his and my aha-moments doesn’t match. If I have the moment first, it’s not so bad – I just keep asking. (I thought I’ve got it, but I was wrong, so we need more information and it usually helps.)
If he has the aha-moment first and feels already understood, he has made his point, but it still doesn’t make any sense to me, then we have a problem, basically because we can’t go anywhere, unless he gives me an answer, that fits in my way of thinking and understanding the world (the why-part). Usually I’m very open-minded and I never had such moment, because I can easily imagine, how something must have felt for someone or so and somehow fit it in my spectrum of possible ways other people think.
But about a week or two ago, I had such a moment with my brother. The problem is simply, that we have experienced a lot of things together and although it’s clear to both of us, that it must have felt differently for the other one, it seems like both of us can’t understand how different it was, because we had the idea of how it should have been for so long in our heads.
Now I feel like we both know, that it was not nearly so, like we thought it was for the other, but we both can’t really understand why. Why the hell would he/she feel that way, while I felt that other way and I’ve always thought that he/she feel like a whole other way and I’ve imagined what I would feel like a whole new other way if I were he/she back then. (idk if any of you can understand that sentence, but you know- ask 🙂
So after a lot of thinking, I’m hoping to find my peace on the topic by saying: “Well, now we at least know, that it wasn’t like we thought, that’s still something. And if someday we really truly and fully understand how the other one thinks and feels, we would be able to really understand the why-part too”.
A great song for closing:
What’s your strategy for understanding other people?