Lately I have been struck by how much we let our interpretation of love and life rather than the facts guide our lives. Let me give you some examples. Many of these will not be about love or relationships, but bare with me and I will bring all this around to love:
- A business owner is struggling to make ends meet. He has more clients then ever on a client roster, but they are not using his services. A suggestion is made that he come up with alternative services or products that people on his client roster would buy. He laughs it off. He says he must be tired and that is why his clients are not coming in. Reality says one thing but, not wanting to face reality, he comes up with an explanation that will give him something to do but will not give him a solution.
- A retainer client of a business owner starts to use much more time than the retainer covers. The business owner gently asks for either a reduction of time or an increase in the retainer. The client thinks he is being taken advantage of, gets angry and leaves. In reality the business owner was trying to take care of the client, but the client’s mistaken interpretation wins and he ends up without the services he was benefiting from.
- A woman believes that she is not as good as others. No matter how many people tell her how wonderful she is, this belief persists and colors her life. Even faced with overwhelming evidence that she is desirable, she tends to cling to her belief. This costs her time, happiness and connections with people who care about her.
- A sleep-deprived man who does not like to go to sleep early finds nightly excuses to stay up. His health, his relationships, his sense of well being and ability function suffer greatly. Yet nightly he still finds reasons to stay up, caught in the perpetual illusion that he is getting things done while staying up. In interpreting events to fit what he wants – to stay up – with each night’s loss of sleep he is less healthy, less productive and more alone.
- A man continues to pressure a woman to resume a relationship she ended with him a year earlier. He initiates all the contact; she barely responds. Occasionally they meet for lunch, but most of the time she avoids him. He reinterprets each contact, initiated by him, as her wanting to be connected to him. As a result, he remains trapped in a non-existent relationship while his life is passing him by.
- A woman dates emotionally shut-down men, hoping each time that the man will warm up and open up once he falls in love with her. The men continue to be shut down and emotionally unavailable, and yet she still keeps the hope. Her misinterpretation that the emotional shut down would go away with time keeps her trapped in relationships that will never give her the love and closeness she wants.
I could go on and on, giving example after example of people making choices according to their interpretation of events, while reality is screaming loudly in their ear to wake up and make different choices. This is especially true in love, where people pile interpretation upon interpretation instead of looking at what reality is trying to show them.
So what do you do? Here’s the thing. If your love life is not working, if your relationships are not working, you very likely have misinterpretations about what’s going on with you. You are probably refusing to see the reality, the facts, in your love life.
It’s ok: don’t judge yourself. At the same time, don’t go into more denial here, saying, No this could not be me. Instead, try to be willing to see the true nature of the situation and then keep looking at it until the fog of denial and misinterpretation clears and you start to see things as they really are.
How do you know you have arrived at the reality of the situation? With reality, in the absence of misinterpretations, comes a sense of peace and clarity. So if you have explained a situation to yourself and you have no peace with the explanation, you don’t have the reality of it yet. Keep looking.