Carl Rogers wrote in his book, Becoming a Person: “I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand the other person. The way in which I have worded this statement may seem strange to you. Is it necessary to permit oneself to understand another? I think it is. Our first reaction to most of the statements which we hear from other people is an evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude or belief, our tendency is almost immediately to feel “that’s right,” or “that’s stupid,” “that’s abnormal,” “that’s unreasonable,” “that’s incorrect,” “that’s not nice.” Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to the other person.”
This has become one of the most important tools of communication in my relationships: permitting myself to understand someone’s heart, instead of reacting to my own conclusions, instantly. Keeping my own interpretations out of the equation when I have a conversation with another person, I have learned to separate the facts (what really happened) from the conclusions (the person’s heart) and treat them as two separate transactions. What really happened? How does she feel about the incident? Why does she feel that way? What is the negative spiritual picture the father-of-lies painted in her mind? How can I help her to understand her own heart and see the Truth? Unless you care about someone’s heart, first, you will not be able to help her see the facts of the situation. Therefore, treat the PERSON, not the PROBLEM!
IF I HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY AND CAN FATHOM ALL MYSTERIES AND ALL KNOWLEDGE, AND IF I HAVE A FAITH THAT CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS, BUT DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I AM NOTHING
(1 Corinthians 13:2).
I love to apply this principle of separating the facts from the conclusions to my own heart, as well. What really happened? How do I feel about the incident? Why do I feel that way? Where is the root of my problem? What is the negative spiritual picture the father-of-lies painted in my mind? How can I receive Truth in my heart, so I may see the facts clearly? But, there are times when I am not able to understand, no matter how many questions I ask myself or anybody else. During these times, I go to the One who has infinite Understanding, the One who is able to separate the facts from the conclusions, the One who always cares about my heart.
GREAT IS OUR LORD, AND OF GREAT POWER: HIS UNDERSTANDING IS INFINITE
Think back of a specific conversation you had with someone this past week. How might the outcome of the conversation have changed IF you had permitted yourself to UNDERSTAND your conversation partner’s heart, instead of reacting to your own conclusions, instantly? What would it take for you to become willing to separate the facts from the conclusions and UNDERSTAND others during your conversations, instead of using criticism, control, or complaint as your defense mechanisms, before you even know what is going on?
PRAYER: Most High, deposit Your Love in my heart, so I may permit myself to understand others and myself, instead of only reacting to the facts at face value.
Maintain an Awareness
And here lies the root to all our problems: not the FACTS we experienced during our childhood circumstances…but the CONCLUSIONS we made in response to these facts.