Comment: If you can truly utilize the information of this email, you will have come a long way in the management of any emotional issues, especially those of anger.
MacQuarrie Email Program #21 — Perspective
This email is about how you create your reality, and some options to do life differently.
First task, look at this accompanying diagram. What do you see in each of the four blocks? Likely you see four different images: a 3, a W, a E, a M. Now, to the extent possible, rotate the diagram. Notice that the images are identical; they have simply been rotated. So which interpretation (3, W, E, M) is right? They all are — it simply depends on how you look at it. It always depends on how you look at it!
Second task: Read the following story, and then answer the questions that follow.
A business man had just turned off the lights in the store when a man appeared, and demanded money. The owner opened the cash register. The contents of the cash register were scooped up, and the man sped away. A member of the police force was notified promptly.
Choose your response (yes-true, no-false, or not sure) to each of these statements about the story.
|1. A man appeared after the owner had turned off the lights.|
|2. The robber was a man.|
|3. The man who opened the cash register was the owner.|
|4. After the man had scooped up the contents of the cash register, he ran away.|
|5. While the cash register contained money, the story does not state how much.|
|6. The story concerns a series of events in which only three persons are referred to: the owner of the store, a man who demanded money and a member of the police force.|
Now see the end of this document for my answers, and compare them with your answers.
Third task: Take a sheet of paper and place a vertical line down the center of the page. On one side, at the top of the page, write STORY. Write out a description of a recent conflict that you have had with someone — in as much detail as you wish, describe what happened.
On the other side, at the top, write WHAT I KNOW. Then on this same side, list in point form, specific sensory-based details of what you actually know: time of day, words you actually said, words the other person actually said, facial expression (without interpretation), voice tone (without interpretation), body sensations you felt, internal dialogue you had, movements the other made, et cetera. Be as detailed as possible.
Now, go back to the Story side, and write out two other (different) stories, each of which uses each and every self-same sensory detail as you listed on the What I Know side. For example, in one story, make yourself the total victim; in the second, make yourself the hero. Be imaginative, but use all the sensory details.
Finally, examine all three stories. Ideally each one uses all the sensory details available to you. Ideally each story could be true. Question: How did you spontaneously arrive at the first story? What underlying beliefs (values, expectations, memories) were present such that you gave preference to the first story?
Do this activity with as many conflicts as you wish, until you are clear that you never have all the data, especially in the heat of the moment (or argument).
Reflect therefore on how you will manage your conflicts in future.
My answers to The Story. Please note that my answers are not right (nor are yours’ wrong if they differ from mine). My answers are simply my best attempt to respond to the data presented (I explain my reasoning below).
- A man appeared after the owner had turned off the lights. NOT SURE. A business man turned off the lights. Where does it say that the business man and the owner are the same person? It doesn’t, but alternatively it does not specify. Therefore, for me, not sure.
- The robber was a man. NOT SURE. Where does it say there was a robbery? (see below).
- The man who opened the cash register was the owner. NOT SURE. Where does it say the owner was a man? Perhaps a woman, or …
- After the man had scooped up the contents of the cash register, he ran away. NOT SURE. Two issues. Who scooped up the money? We do not know. He sped away — he ran, he drove, he bicycled?
- While the cash register contained money, the story does not state how much. NOT SURE. The contents were scooped up — keys, cheques, money? Where does it say there was money?
- The story concerns a series of events in which only three persons are referred to: the owner of the store, a man who demanded money and a member of the police force. The word only limits the answer to true or false; not sure is not an option here. Since there could be three or more people, the answer I choose is false.
I suggest that to the degree that your answers differed from mine, you were adding information that was not part of the story, information that came from your imagination, your expectations. To what extent do you do this in the situations where you become angry with others or yourself? And to what extent does this contaminate the responses you make?
Here is the same story with the blanks filled in with specific possibilities:
A business man had just turned off the lights in the store when a man (a credit collector) appeared and demanded money (owed for outstanding purchases). The owner (a woman, also in the store for closing) opened the cash register (to get the letter of receipts paid, the only remaining contents of the register, normally emptied for the night). The contents of the cash register were scooped up (by the owner and handed to the man) and the man sped away (angrily, in his car). A member of the police force was notified promptly (that the man appeared drunk, and was driving dangerously).
Now what are your answers? It is easy to be clear when you have all the data — but we almost never have all the data! The skill is to know that is the case — we do not have the necessary data.
Coming next: Knowing your own truths.