We each live in our own reality.
To many, this statement sounds absurd. Of course, we are in the same reality. The world, people and interactions are the same for all of us. But the truth is that we all live in our heads. What happens there is all that exists to us. And what is in our heads is a combination of what actually happens in the “real world” and, to a much greater degree, how we interpret what happens.
Here are a few (hugely oversimplified) examples of what this means and why it is important.
Both “sides” of the abortion debate are certain they are right. The facts are on their side! The other side is a bunch of idiots that they don’t get it!
Part of this discrepancy, though, is a failure to understand and speak into the other person’s reality.
If you believe what is happening is killing a child, then few if any of the pro-choice arguments carry weight. Simply saying, “My body. My choice!” doesn’t make sense because there is a child involved that is being ignored.
If you feel what is happening is removing a clump of cells, few if any, of the pro-life arguments, carry weight. Simply screaming “Murder!” makes no sense since you can’t murder a tumor. It doesn’t apply to the reality of the pro-choice person.
Another great example is religion.
If you are a Christian, saying “The Bible says…” means something. If you are an atheist or non-Bible-believer, saying “The bible says” is akin to saying, “Odin commanded!” Most people would agree following Odin makes absolutely no sense.
But if you try to tell a Bible-believer that the Bible means nothing, you will get nowhere. The Bible is, in the believer’s mind, the inspired Word of God.
This is An Incredibly Profound Realization
This difference, in reality, explains why so many of our difficult conversations these days go nowhere. When we talk about our own personal reality, we can’t reach others. We must speak into the reality where the person with whom your speaking exists.
The response to this idea is often “Well, THEY should speak into my reality” or “Who should bend?” The reality is that the person of good heart and good faith who want to make an impact, need to lead. You may or may not know how to speak into their reality. Realize, however, that if you can’t speak into their reality, the conversation is probably not worth having as it will go nowhere.
After all who is going to listen to you if you talk about what Odin commanded?
NOTE: I first heard this idea from a lady who spoke at my alma mater, Gettysburg College. She spoke at something related to graduation at a year after mine. I checked with the school and no one remembered anything like this. So, I either dreamed that she spoke there, or I’d love it if someone could help me identify who she was :D