Have you ever watched the show The Affair? I know the title may be a turn off for some, but for some reason I decided to check it out. What can I say? My curiosity got the best of me! This post isn’t about the actors’ performances, or the actual plot line itself. I want to talk about the way the story’s laid out and why it got me thinking.
The director has taken an interesting approach to this show. He shows the same events from different character perspectives in each episode. What continues to blow my mind is how different each person’s recollection of the same incident is. He thinks she pursued him, she thinks he pursued her, and so on. As I continue to watch more episodes and see this constant gap in how each character remembers an incident unfolding, I can’t help but wonder how often this happens in real life?
They say that there are 3 sides to every story: his, hers and the truth. I’m beginning to think that’s only true if he and she are the only participants in the story! The director has kept things interesting in by not only featuring the perspectives of the man and woman involved in the affair, but also to start showing how their exes are dealing with the dissolution of their marriage as well. While the issues may not be as complicated in our own everyday lives, I can’t help but wonder how understanding that we’re all looking at the same issues through different lenses might help us deal with things in our own relationships better.
How often do we make sure that we are being heard? Are we assuming that the other people in our lives understand why we do the things we do, or do we leave it up to them to assume? Instead of assuming what one’s motivations are for the things they do, why don’t we simply ask for clarification? If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from watching this show, it’s that we often choose to complicate matters by living in our own minds rather than simply communicating with the people in our lives.
Why do we do this? Why do we assume we know what the other is thinking? Are we afraid to hear the truth? Are we worried that the truth may be more painful that what we’ve perceived in our minds? There’s a reason why transparency is such a buzz word these days. If we are open and truthful about our motivations, people in our lives are more willing to trust us. There is no concern about hidden agendas or deceptions; rather there is trust and understanding. Isn’t that the foundation of any successful relationship?
The next time you’re having a problem with someone, whether at home or at work, before assuming that your perception of the situation is reality, ask questions. Try to understand how the other person is seeing the same issue. Don’t assume. Communicate. If you struggle to take the emotion out of it, find a neutral third party to mediate. Once you find your way to the heart of the matter, it is easier to resolve the issue and keep it from escalating unnecessarily. Remember, your perceptions may be your reality, but everyone else considers their perceptions to be reality as well!