If you look up, what do you see? If you’re indoors and taking this question literally, you might answer ‘the ceiling’. If you’re outdoors and thinking atmospherically, you could answer ‘the sky’. There is one answer that is independent of location and almost certainly correct regardless of where you are, who you are or what you are doing.
Any ideas on what this could be? It’s not really a trick question although the answer does involve trickery. This ‘thing’ must always be above you for you are always under it.
What are you always under? An illusion! Being under an illusion – that you are as clear to others as you are to yourself – is a constant companion in your experiential learning and behavioural change efforts, simply because you are you and you are therefore not somebody else. Of course, they (being all the others) are under the same illusion that you are; this turns the shared illusion into the reality with which we all must cope. It’s crowded under there!
We all think that others will understand us as we understand ourselves. We believe this should be straightforward as we consider our feelings and actions to be an ‘open book’, unambiguously there for all to see and comprehend. Further, as our ‘book’ is open, we should all be on the same page all the time. But even ‘open books’ present many challenges:
Can you imagine the ways in which misunderstandings flow from our mistaken belief that we are transparent to others? Can you imagine the ways in which this illusion is compounded because we also assume that the actions of others are as transparent to us as our own actions are?
As a learner and changer, it’s never easy being ‘you’ for you are continually monitoring, identifying, analysing and resolving challenges. During this process, you will be selective, sometimes to your advantage and sometimes not, you will be suspicious without necessarily knowing the cause and you will be caught short-handed for demands may exceed your capacity to cope.
It’s hard enough being you. With the ‘book’ metaphor, it is challenging enough to establish where you are, what is happening and what it all means, even when you know the page, paragraph and preceding chapters. Can you really expect others to ‘read what you are reading’ and therefore understand what you understand?
Try to be transparent, for valid connections with others can only help your journey. Never just assume that you are transparent, for even though you consider yourself to be an ‘open book’, you will still often appear as an enigma machine to others.