One of the concepts we learn in psychology is that people are not bothered by things, but by the views they take of them. I once had a manager, when I worked for Anheuser-Busch, whose favorite saying was that perception is reality; I disagreed with him. Perception is not reality, our perception is our reality.
There is a huge difference! Just because I think a thing is true, does not make it so. The main difference is a blind spot that a person has between what is true and what is perceived as true. Have you ever had a belief disproved? I once thought that working for a large corporation was the answer to happiness. I revised my belief, 20-years after making a similar statement to my father, and retired early.
A truth in my life today is that my son, my first-born child, one of two children born to me and my first wife, has a perspective that prevents us from having a loving relationship. When he was five-years-old, his mother and I separated due to circumstances beyond my control. I filed for divorce and requested the custody of both children. Two years later, after a trial where I brought 26 witnesses, I was awarded custody and a divorce. Whereas I thought that would end the battle, in reality, that was only the beginning; by the time my son and daughter were 10 and 8 respectively, they pined for their mother and I allowed them to live with her for a time. My ex did not return them and it was 10 years before my daughter and I got back together; my son’s reaction to his mother caused him to return home earlier, but in the process, she had changed their last names to that of her new husband, and that created a greater battle. My blind spot was that I refused to pay to change his name back, because of my anger and resentment. My belief was this: if he and my daughter hadn’t begged me to live with their mother, she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to change their names, so why should I pay to have them changed back; they should pay for it themselves. WRONG! That didn’t work!
In harboring that belief, the perspective that my son took is that I do not love him. That thought hadn’t entered my mind…. at all! In fact, I often lose sleep over the inability to connect with my son who is now 42-years old. Today is one of those days; I awoke at 3:00 this morning and decided to incorporate this story in my blog; I would tell him personally if he would speak with me. However, he has communicated to me that he is not interested in having a relationship, and he is an adult who has every right to choose his own path in life. That said, I have promised him that I’d give him space and I will honor that. There is no reason to create drama over something that I might want to do.
What beliefs do you harbor that are creating drama in your life? How is the struggle between intimacy and autonomy creating a whirlpool of emotions for you? Have you been down this road before, and is the pain bad enough to cause you to desire change? How can you better choose to respond to your emotions rather than react to them?
At this update, August 18, 2018, I’m happy to say that my son and I have reconciled and I’ve been assisting him in a project he’s been working toward. How we see things determines how we react to them. Whereas I saw my hesitance to change my son’s name as the cause of our division, he had no thoughts of it. Regardless, my own thoughts on the matter are that a name is only a name. He is still my son, carries my DNA, and is now once again calling me Dad.
As an emotional wisdom specialist, I can support you in finding the answers to these questions.