Everyone Has Their Own Experience
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Everyone has their own experience
"Everyone has their own experience. That's why we are here, to go through our experience, to learn, to go down those paths, and eventually, you may have gone down so many paths and learned so much that you don't have to come back again." – Prince.
If there's one thing that is for certain, something that stands true time and time again is that every single person on this planet, whether we choose to accept it or not, has their own individual experience, their own perception of the world, their own path, their very own story. We are born into our personal stories to different parents, at different times, under different circumstances, and with different genetic makeups.
Not only do we have our own path and experience, but we also have our own recipe for happiness. There is no recipe for happiness, everyone has their own path, which makes us all different and unique.
If you think about it, two people could attempt to follow the same recipe for happiness. Go to school, graduate college, get married, have a family, and end up in two different scenarios. One could end up in a divorce as a single parent with a successful career, and the other could end up still married with three children and devoting their life to being a stay-at-home mom. There are curveballs in life or variables that cannot be controlled or foreseen, which will sway our lives in completely different paths no matter what recipe we follow.
Understanding that everyone has their own story and experience can be very confusing. Especially if we are used to projecting our experience onto others. When we expect other people to be just like us or when we want a different life for them.
Some of us may feel inclined to tell people that our recipe for happiness and success works; therefore, we want other people to follow our recipe. And although there are definitely common pitfalls that we wish our loved ones to avoid, it's quite possible that they actually need to go through those difficulties to build their character. They need those challenges to sew up possible karmic loops and to learn about themselves.
Why is it hard to respect others' experiences?
The ego works against us in the sense that it wants everyone else to be like us. A hard truth to accept is that every one of us has a little bit of narcissism in us because the ego likes attention and control. The ego doesn't necessarily want everyone to be different, nor does it want to respect everyone else's path because that would indicate the ego is losing power over others. The ego finds strength in validation, and we get validation from other people agreeing with who we are and the choices that we are making. The ego feels important when it directs others and their lives when it's bossy. Because taking control is the easiest way to be in the spotlight.
Respecting another person's experience becomes quite challenging when the situations they are speaking about involve us, and they aren't speaking about us in a good light. That's a quick way to trigger the ego because it will immediately take their experience personally and promptly try to change the other person's mind about the situation.
For example, a mother and a daughter could have a shared experience. The daughter speaks about the hardship of her childhood and how she didn't feel loved. Then the mother's ego gets triggered and immediately begins to negate her child's feelings. "Of course, you were loved. All I did was love you. How could you ever say that?" Sometimes the other person's experience may be hurtful to hear. However, we cannot control how they think and feel, and also we shouldn't take it personally because we were also living our story and our experience at the time, and I'm sure we were trying our best. In the end, there's no going back to change another person's experience. It doesn't mean that you failed as a person. It just means that what you were experiencing was different from the other person's, and that's totally ok. We do not have to take it personally, especially when we were doing everything we could with all the tools we had at the time.
What does disrespecting another's experience even look like?
Disrespecting someone's experience comes out mostly in judgment. When we judge others and how they live their lives, we do not respect their uniqueness, individuality, and experience. When we gossip to our friends about how that person is doing this wrong and why can't they do this better like us, we are not showing respect to them or ourselves. When another person opens up about their experience, and instead of listening and holding space, we automatically decide to talk about our experience and how it was better or worse than theirs, we are not giving enough breath and room for the other person. Anytime we compare our experience or path to another person's, that's our ego talking and trying to make itself feel important, more powerful, and better. When in reality, it's just different.
There's a difference between being judgmental of others and having discernment. The judgment indicates that we are not respecting the other person's experience, and therefore we ultimately feel superior to them. Discernment is when we respect the other person's choices. However, we know that that's not aligned with our life path, so we choose differently for ourselves.
Why respecting others' experiences in relationships so important?
In relationships, we spend quite a bit of time together, so much time that we may expect our partners to make the same choices and that we will think the same way that we do. Although that may be true, especially if we have found partners with similar values, characteristics, and thought patterns, that still doesn't mean they are not a whole unique person on their own. Arguments and conflicts can break out when we assume that our partner will respond to situations like we do. To avoid these conflicts, sometimes we may not say how we truly feel or hide parts of ourselves because they don't match our partners, and that's when we begin to lose our authentic selves and our identity in the relationship. Our needs and desires may become muted because we believe our partner's experience and knowledge are more important than ours. However, they are not. They are just different.
It gets tricky when one partner's life choices impact the other. The partner impacted then has to decide to compromise with their partner and allow for situations that wouldn't usually be in their experience or their story to exist. If they care about their partner enough to make space for their life choices even though it's impacting both of them. That's where the struggle for power and control comes in. One partner is saying my life path is better to follow my lead, and the other is saying no, my life path is better to follow mine. Therefore a tug of war begins.
I believe that's why relationships are challenging. Because we are trying to take two individual people with their own life paths and merge their choices into an aligned experience that will bring happiness to both.
The solution lies in respecting each other's experiences, opinions, and paths and making room for both. Truly holding space for your partner's feelings, desires, and outlook on life, even though it is different. Acting as a team and learning how to share control over the relationship with each other. Learning to listen and hear your partner when they are talking rather than run them over with how you feel and your life experience. There's enough space in relationships for two people's stories and experiences when they both consciously choose for it to be that way.
The benefits of allowing others to have their own experience
Once we can wrap our mind's around the concept that everyone is entitled to their own experience, perception of the world, the own recipe for happiness, we become lighter. It's almost like we are reborn again. We don't feel so responsible for telling people what to do with their lives or feel terrible when bad things happen to others because it's not our fault. We are not gods, and we are not in control of other people and their choices. They have their own destiny to fulfill, lessons to learn, and ways of learning it. Although it may be painful to watch another go down a certain path, we can find solace in that everything is as it should be.
We no longer have to take another's experience personally, even if it involves us, because they are entitled to their feelings and perception of the situation. You may find it easier to apologize for your role in their experience, even if your perception of the situation differed solely because you are respecting the other person's feelings. And you can step out of your shoes into someone else's and, like a book, read their view of what happened.
Our partners will feel more comfortable being their authentic selves and trust that they can talk to us about how they're feeling without feeling judged or controlled or robbed of their experience.
Lastly, I have summed up some tips on how to respect another person's experience.
If someone speaks about their life, listen without adding your experience until they finish. Do not try to change their mind about what they are speaking about to better suit your perception of what happened so that you can protect your ego.
Do not take it personally if another is speaking about their experience and it involves you. Try not to let your ego go into protective mode and try to deny their experience. Most people just want to be heard.
Place yourselves in another person's shoes. Imagine how you could have been perceived differently from their standpoint. Once you can imagine this, it will be easier to apologize when and if you are ready.
Remember that there is no recipe for happiness. Therefore, it's good to offer advice only when asked when someone is open to hearing it.
When we gossip about people, we judge them. Therefore, we are not respecting their life path or experience.
It's ok to be unique and different. You do not need outside validation to feed your ego. You do not need people to join in on your experience to validate that you are on the right path.
We cannot play god in other people's lives. Everyone has free will and will make their own choices. We must learn to let go and let others fulfill their destiny.
There is enough room in a relationship for both people's experience, especially when both people choose to hold space for each other.
When we try to control another person, whether for a good or bad reason, we rob them of their experience.
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