Sitting in my favourite coffee shop, The Grind, on a snowy afternoon, I watched a young boy and his grandma come in from the cold and approach the desert display. It was hard to miss. Let’s just say that this very cute little boy – four or so – didn’t need to be a close talker to get my attention.
He was a loud talker.
But, oh so cute. He looked, wide-eyed, at the delectable selection of gourmet cakes. His grandma read the name of the one he liked: Chocolate Truffle. No competition. He took his snow-pant wearing body over to the cash and looked up through his plastic 3-D glasses.
“Two pieces of Chocolate Trouble, please!”
What happens when we’re not playing and things get mixed up?
That boy’s grandma, wisely, didn’t correct him. There was no point. No harm in hearing it wrong. In time, he would learn the word truffle. He had listened with his four year old brain; through his four year old lens of the world.
The same thing happens in our relationships. We say things that others interpret – or hear – differently than we intended. We hear others and are certain that we know what they were intending. The discrepancy comes from the lens we look through.
What does your lens show you?
If you have frequent friction with others you may want to check your lens.
3 Three Lenses That Hold Us Back
1. The Victim
People with this lens will see everything as ‘happening to them’. They are being acted on by forces out of their control; forces that are not working for their good.
Their spouse is trying to belittle them.
Their children are trying to annoy them.
Their boss has it out for them.
I have definitely been guilty of this. If I look at my first feeling when my kids interrupt my reading for the third time or when my normally lovely man of the house snaps at me, it is often through this lens. I’m quick to think that someone ‘doesn’t care’. It takes a conscious effort to look again.
Are they interrupting because I’ve been unavailable for too long? Is he grumpy because he’s tired or struggling with his own lens?
The Victim Lens person believes that they aren’t able to make any changes to the situation. Their lens says:
“If only they would change, I could get ahead, get along, be loving, have patience.
If only they would change, I could be happy!”
2. The Unlovable or The Worthless
People looking through this lens have attributed their worth to how much they’re receiving love or validation. Or to how much success they’re having. There is a gauge on their lens and, should the gauge not register high enough, they will feel unloved or worthless. Every interaction they have, they get a reading from their gauge and their self-talk and confidence reflects the reading.
When a fight with a spouse or a failure in business happens to these folks, the gauge reads low and their self-worth plummets. Inevitably, they become like the people with the victim lens.
Only when things outside themselves are going well do they feel okay.
Ouch! There are times when I fall for this one too.
I know that I tend to avoid people who don’t feed my ‘You’re awesome’ feeling. And that’s okay. No need to associate with negative people. But, there will be times when even great people will get on each other’s nerves or, worse, really treat each other badly.
Do you find yourself feeling less than okay because of an argument?
When our worth is determined by how someone else acts towards us, we are looking in the wrong direction for validation. We can’t only feel good when those around us have it together enough to treat us well.
If this is you, look again! There is a truth about you that doesn’t change with the moods of others or with your success or failure.
3. The Loser
This person believes that they’re destined to lose. And losing hurts. They do not see losing as a learning process.
In fact, they can’t look at their failures long enough to learn from them and, therefore, are destined to repeat them. In every interaction with others, they’re looking to see if someone is trying to remind them of their failures.
Often these folks have a hard time in relationship because they cannot apologize. An apology is an admission of guilt or an acknowledgment of failure and is simply too painful.
Just like the little boy who listened to the lady at the coffee shop through the lens of a four year old vocabulary, we all listen and watch for body language through our lenses.
Before you decide how you’re going to feel about how others behave, consider your lens.
Are you looking from a lens that knows that you are valuable, lovable, meant to prosper, capable of growth and able to be forgiven for your mistakes regardless of what the world says?
You should be. Because you are.