Two people sit down across from each other at a diner.
They both order the exact same cheeseburger.
They eat their burgers in silence, and from an outsider’s perspective, they seem to be having the exact same experience with the exact same burger.
One of the burger-eaters has struggled with an eating disorder her entire life. She’s been a vegan for many years, and this is her first time eating meat again. She has deep anxiety about her weight and food, and she feels a pang of guilt with every single bite she takes. She wonders what her vegan friends would think if they saw her eating a burger, and she pictures them judging her behind her back. She feels ashamed and questions her entire identity.
The other burger-eater has never worried much about diet. She’s always pretty much eaten whatever she wants, and has never thought too much about burgers aside from what toppings she likes or which restaurant has the best burger in town. As she eats, she’s reminded of BBQs with her family and their annual summer party by the lake. As she takes a bite, she smiles, thinking about her Dad flipping burgers on the grill, and how he’d probably love this diner. She feels comforted and at ease.
These two people are eating the same cheeseburger on the outside, but on the inside they are having WILDLY different experiences.
This is important to remember anytime we’re struggling with our interpersonal relationships of any kind.
There are things that are a HUGE deal to you, that are no-big-deal-at-all to someone else.
There are things that are a HUGE deal to someone else, that are no-big-deal-at-all to you.
There are behaviors and ways of being that you consider to be common sense, that are completely new to someone else.
There are behaviors and ways of being that someone else considers to be common sense, that are completely new to you.
There are experiences that trigger deep anxiety or shame in someone else, that feel neutral or even pleasant to you.
There are experiences that trigger deep anxiety or shame in you, that feel neutral or even pleasant to someone else.
There are actions that seem disrespectful to you, that someone else thinks are virtuous.
There are actions that seem disrespectful to someone else, that you think are virtuous.
We are all seeing life through our own lens.
We are all the main character of our own movie.
The way we experience life is colored by nuance, emotions, energy, past events, the ideas people have shared with us, ideas we’ve taken from the media, what we eat and drink, what medications we are on, what kinds of traumas we’ve experienced, what kinds of people we’ve dated, what people have done to us, what we’ve done to other people, where the stars are in the sky, what our parents taught us was right or wrong, what our parents modeled for us, what our role models and teachers have shown us, how much sleep we got last night, what kinds of books we read, how much coffee we had today, what kind of life transition we’re currently in, what we believe to be true about ourselves, what we believe to be true about others, what we believe to be true about humanity, what we believe to be true about God, what we believe to be true about respect, what we believe to be true about CHEESEBURGERS. Seriously.
Remember this next time you aren’t seeing eye to eye with someone, or you JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND why someone would think/act/speak the way they are currently thinking/acting/speaking, or why you just can’t seem to get on the same PAGE…
Everyone has an inner world that’s vast and deep and made of many tiny parts, parts that we’ll never, EVER fully know. There are many tiny parts of ourselves that we’ll never fully know.
That’s the greatest beauty of relationships and it’s also the greatest challenge.
Nobody sees the world through the exact same lens as you.