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How are you helping yourself?

The map is not the territory

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My uncle was a banker and was professionally a stickler for rules, he was not a bad guy he had good intentions. He looked after his family well and though he was uptight about going to therapy he did take his chance.

His wife, my aunt was the peacekeeper, who would agree with anyone on anything and apologize for everything. For instance if I would say, “It is a sunny day” she would say “Yes, I am sorry!”.

The son, my cousin was quite an amalgamation of his parents. He adored his mom because he felt she was cool and he believed dad was a stuffy lad. Though he sided with his mom, he behaved like his dad.

In the therapy sessions, the father , my uncle kept on blaming my aunt for doing a poor job raising the boy.  The boy, my cousin had become very stubborn. At one point during our sessions, when my uncle repeatedly went on and on , i asked him -” You are an individual who has gotten way ahead in your life. Isn’t it true?
“Yes”
“Was all that you have accomplished , just given to you on a silver platter? Did you father own the bank and just say “Here , you’re the Chairman of the Bank?”
“No , no i worked very hard”
“So , you have some tenacity in you correct?”
“Well , There is a part of you that has lead you to where you are today, and at times you had to be tough on people so that they did not end up in trouble, yes?”
“Yes”
“And , there is a part of you that has been making you headstrong and determined to protect yourself in very vital ways, yes?”
“Yes, I cannot imagine getting certain things out of control.”
“Now I want you to look at your son and realize how you have contributed in making him relentless and  stand up for himself . This character in him is very valuable , imagine when he starts an enterprise with a bunch of partners how he can protect himself from all the bad intentions of his partners.”

Every experience an individual goes through is appropriate in some or the other context. You can observe how the Man began seeing his son through this new lens of self sufficiency and tenacity of the kid. After the session he never saw the son’s stubbornness as a problem.

We base our actions on our mental map of the world, and our behaviors flow from these actions. If you can understand “map is not the territory” concept you can understand there always ways to improve the terrains on your maps. People who are stuck in life , will not be aware of this, they may get aggressive or ignore you when you tell them to improve their view of the world.

Similarly when you do not understand others’ “maps” you find it hard understanding the individuals. Can you imagine how your connection with people would improve and improve your communication just by building awareness around this concept?

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