If we take a breather or a step back, and momentarily, pause our emotions, then try, just a little bit, to see things from a lens different from ours, we’ll see that many of the conflicts we dwell on may not be as bad as we let it play out to the point they become utterly toxic.
Humans are naturally selfish. When we were toddlers, the assumption was the world should revolve around us and that is why developmental psychologists have held that the first few years of life are what’s known as the egocentric stage. At this stage, we assume the entire world sees things from our perspective. As we grow older we become aware. But deep down we still have egocentric tendencies deep down and they usually come out alongside rife emotions.
So what would happen when we try to see things from other people’s perspectives? Especially people who seem to hurt us?
Let me take the heated issue of polygyny as an example.
It’s easy to place blames on the man. He’s a narcissist who only cares about himself. He doesn’t care about his present wife. He just wants more variety. An entitled misogynistic man. He does not even have that much money.
The initial wife who doesn’t want to share her husband? She’s a feminist. A modern Ruth, ruthlessly callous against other women. A selfish woman who doesn’t care about any one else.
The incoming wife? A Homewrecker. She wants to enjoy what she didn’t cook. She’s wants a ready-made man. She has low self-esteem to begin with.
But what if we see these from those people’s perspectives?
Perhaps the man sees it as a form of servant leadership and expanding his potential to be the best version of himself. He’s attracted – in ways he can’t describe – to a specific sister, wants to be her companion, thinks about her, wants to take care of her – these desire came from a place he couldn’t control, yet he doesn’t want to lose the best thing in his life, his wife and family. He could do as many men do, engage in a well covered affair. But he didn’t want that. The woman he likes deserves to be dignified. He’s a sincere, honest person. So he wrestles with his emotions. He does not want to hurt his wife. He does not want to be unfulfilled either.
The initial wife has been comfortable being the only one in her husband’s life and it’s just not easy to switch not being the only person in charge of his affairs anymore. What should she do when he leaves for the other woman? Things she’s never experienced. What guarantees does she have that things won’t change for the worse? Will her husband still be in tune? These are her fears and many more. Will the time be enough for her and her children? The resources? Won’t his man, now their man, be stretched too thin?
Perhaps the incoming wife just wants a man to call hers too and she’s willing to let go of her ideal of being the only wife too. She has everything but a man and now she’s accepted to settle for someone that’s not ideal. A single man. She wants to have companionship too and wants to be a mother. She does not want flings; she wants a relationship with commitment. She doesn’t want to wreck any home, she just wants a home too.
If we get past the hot emotions or just pause them, then think of the other person’s perspective too, perhaps we’ll have level headed conversations and there will be less conflicts and we will show compassion in many of our disagreements with people.
Remember that person has needs and motives that don’t involve hurting you. At work. At school. They’re just looking out for themselves just as you’re. They can frame it better. You can frame it better. But they’re usually not necessary out to get you.