My sisters and I often talk about our childhood and how certain experiences shaped us to be who we are.
But when I recall the moments that were pivotal for me and how they influenced my view of myself or my world, Rachel and Suzy often don’t know what I’m talking about. They remember events very differently or maybe don’t remember them at all. That’s because they were my moments, not theirs.
Lately, these conversations have led me to wonder about how each of us will recall the past year. Not just how my sisters and I will remember it, but how we will remember it as a society.
Like most people, I crave clarity, agreement and a shared view of events. I’d love for us to have memories that allow us to connect through common experiences and allow us to plan for the next time we face monumental challenges.
But I’m worried we won’t find common ground because our memories and truths are shaped by many variables and are made even more complex because we subconsciously write and rewrite those experiences over time.
* * *
Scientists say that our brains update memories to make them more relevant and useful for us, even if the re-written story is not a true representation of the past. In fact, we rewrite our memories so many times that things that we would recall with complete clarity and conviction may never have never happened… or at least not in the way we remember.
We are not liars.
In fact, the subconscious re-writing of memories is a way we maintain our mental health. We do it by “imagery rescripting” or editing negative memories to create more meaningful or happy ones. Imagery rescripting helps us feel more in control and less despairing.
As long as our own recollections aren’t imposed on the healing memories that serve other people, why not use these natural coping mechanisms to self-soothe and move forward?
The key question though, is whether we really can self-soothe while also coming back together with others who don’t see the world as we do. We’re so fragmented right now.
My daughter Ciara is a therapist. She says that in her world there is a practice called, “Both, And”
“Both, And” is a way to validate your truth, someone else’s truth, and to agree that there is more.
* * *
No one’s narrative and recollection of a story is necessarily truer than another, and the more we search for right and wrong, the less connected we become.
It’s the “AND” that keeps us together.
In fact, we grow not because we share the same story, the same perspective, or the same goals, but because there IS more yet to come, and together we can create and find those connected experiences.
My aspiration for 2021, therefore, is for more ANDs. More mutual acceptance and more opportunity to craft experiences that we can share. More times that we chose to allow for our own truth and to allow for others’ truths too.
And, in the words of Mary Oliver:
Someone I loved
Once gave me
A box full of
It took me years
That this, too,
Was a gift.
* * *
Do you have some experiences where finding an “and” was meaningful for you?
Share it Small: Tell someone who allowed space for your truth that the acceptance mattered. It sounds like a small thing but the positive feedback will encourage both of you to find more “ANDs” moving forward.
Share it Big: Help start an “AND movement” by being open and vocal about accepting others’ experiences and views as valid, even if you disagree. It’ll open up conversations AND so much more.
Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a break-through, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.