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Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't

12 Rules for Life-Rule #9: Relationships are dynamic. They can be as vague as making eye contact with someone on the street, or run as deeply as a husband and wife after 47 years of marriage. I believe that understanding where you may fall within that range, while also legitimately understanding the perceived gravity of the other individual’s current circumstances, can give us substantial insight into how to approach conversations or even the relationship, as a whole. I preface this way because of Jordan B. Peterson’s heavy emphasis in this week’s Rule on many of his past doctor-patient interactions in his psychological practice. Dr. Peterson recounts numerous incidents where patients would come into his office with varying desires. Some wanted a mere sounding board, others wanted resolution to past regrets or unknowns, while still others seemed just lost-desperately seeking words that they could use to punch their golden ticket out of their mental chains. However, we do not need to possess the title of “Clinical Psychologist,” in order to have a very dramatic impact on an individual’s perceived direction. We are each, after all, a product of our convictions and experiences…or at least perceived experiences. “When you are remembering the past, as well, you remember some parts of it and forget others…You don’t form a comprehensive, objective record. You can’t. You just don’t know enough…You’re not objective, either. You’re alive. You’re subjective. You have vested interests…” (Peterson, p. 237).

This quotation has two very important elements:

1-It is impossible to remember everything.

2-We each have personal biases and theories and beliefs on how our perceived reality came to be. It is our innate desire for those elements to all line up. It is very easy to therefore twist foggy recollections in order to fit our worldview.

Now, I’m no clinical psychologist, but I present our Mindset Monday blog with a word of caution. Dr. Peterson recognized his ability to drastically alter the trajectory of a vulnerable individual’s life with the feedback and advice (verbal and nonverbal) that he gave. “I decided instead to listen. I have learned not to steal my client’s problems from them. I don’t want to be the redeeming hero or the dues ex machina-not in someone else’s story. I don’t want their lives,” (Peterson, p. 240). In a specific example, he says, “She left therapy with me only somewhat less ill-formed and vague than when she first met me. But at least she didn’t leave as the living embodiment of my damned ideology,” (Peterson, p. 240). My cautionary word is therefore, thus: In an age where it is easier than ever to divide and embrace group think, or align ourselves with an organization’s stance because it is popular or merely spelled out, be wary. In a more personal sense, when your friend or loved one comes to you seeking answers, perhaps give an additional instant to…just listen. Don’t rush to a conclusion simply because it fits your ideology. People are our best resources. They have stories and experiences that could save us from years of personal toil and/or struggle. Just because he/she may be in a vulnerable state of mind doesn’t mean that they can’t teach you something. Additionally, what may seem like common sense to you, may in fact be life-altering words to this individual. Choose your words carefully. That is if you choose to respond at all. Tell us if you had a meaningful conversation this week and if this rule came into play! “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.”

Until next time, -Brock Baumgarn, CA, Nutrition Consultant, Health 1st Chiropractic

Bibliography: Peterson, J.B., Doidge, N., &Van, S.E. (2018). 12 rules for life: An antidote to chaos.

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