Everyone has a story of his own, but our stories are infinitely related to others. That’s why we have one version of it, which is necessarily different than their version, and that’s where the trouble begins!!
How we see ourselves and how others see us is an entirely entangled issue. The factors that play into shaping our own awareness about who we are, are so much related to the way we are brought up and the factors that shaped that bringing up; parents, religion, attitudes, atmosphere, relatives, neighbors, schools and mass media, among other things, play the main part of who we are, yet we may not know exactly how we have turned out to be the way we are today.
Our own awareness about who we can be is necessarily different than how others would view us, and that’s also due to the factors that affect the shaping of their own awareness about themselves.
The complications arise when we are demanding others to act according to our own awareness, which they could view differently, and consequently, they would act according to their own expectation, not ours.
A key factor to solve this hurdle of understanding is expressing freely our own thoughts so that others know who we assume we are and what exactly we really want. The success of this communication may depend heavily on clarity of thought and expression, which is not an easy task, especially in a rather conservative society like Egypt’s. It also depends on how others would receive that assumption. That’s why communication is always a very overloaded process.
The key issue here would be the fallacy of using a formula that would work for everyone or even many, or a one-size-fits-all approach to reach a better understanding of other humans.
Reading self-help books and/or attending a life skills course and/or attending a relationship workshop may help you understand things better or may shed light on things you may not have paid attention to for a while, yet they may not solve your problems. Solving a relationship issue is much tougher than this. An eye-opener helps us see things or realities better; however, this may not contribute practically to a sustainable solution.
Sustainable solutions in relationships are very much related to awareness and openness. The problems get more complicated and entangled once one is not aware of who he/she is or he/she is not aware of the effect of his behavior on other people. Awareness is a very complicated thing; there are so many factors that contribute to how we see and feel things and people and act towards them. The reception of others could be a mystery to us if they are not clear about what they want or how they receive what we are doing; one type of behavior could be interpreted in a hundred ways by a hundred people. In terms of relationships, things are not just straightforward. It could be straightforward for someone, yet what he/she thinks of as a straightforward may be rather ambiguous to someone else.
So it seems inevitable to have arguments and clashes or even break up with your girl/boyfriend, spouse, or friends in general. Many times we hear people say “I don’t know why we broke up”, “There was nothing really I can specify as the reason.” Sometimes they say we know why, but if you ask the other party, you may find a completely different interpretation of the story. Maybe when time passes the two parties could interpret what happened differently as their approach to life changes.
Openness seems to be working very effectively in many issues as long as the ego is not very present in the relationship. Once you are open about who you are, you are not afraid to show who you really are; you are making it easy for the other party to either accept you or not, and that also necessitates that the other party be clear about who he/she really is and that they have no worries or fears about showing who they are to the other party. That in itself is a hurdle that may be harder than we think at times. Sometimes people would say you are very frank about who you are, yet he/she is very selective about what they decide to show you, and sometimes they are not even aware that they are selective.
However, openness is not an easy thing. You are almost always surrounded by social pressures that are pushing you hard to say things that are politically correct, but you don’t want to say them. You find yourself compelled to say them, either to satisfy the other person or win them over. This courage to go against the flow and go off the beaten track while trying to still be liked by your girl/boyfriend or by your group is somewhat risky and sometimes frightening.
Thinking that self-help books or human development workshops would work perfectly well for you seems like an illusion of someone who has decided to deceive himself and take the necessary dose of drugs or alcohol to feel okay about his/her life. The workshops or the books are illuminating tools; it’s knowledge, and knowledge rarely fails to help us, but this is not how life works. Life is more about interactivity. Still, the hurdle would persist, for the simple reason that even if you are aware and open in a relationship, the other party has to also be aware and open; it can never work unless you work together. The last thing is you don’t just need to work together, but you need to work together all the time; it is an ongoing process. You can not just do it for six months or twenty; it is life long journey. It seems hard, but it is uplifting.