I don’t believe in destiny, fate, or a being who controls my path. I don’t believe that people come into your life for a reason. This is chance and, sometimes, that chance presents itself against all odds. More often than not, the most influential people come when we least expect it, but need it most. This is not because of any predetermined plan; rather, it is because of an unconscious receptivity that we each have and that is heightened and sensitized when our minds need it most. What I do believe is that we take a little piece of everyone that we meet, everyone who has impacted us, and we change, sometimes significantly and other times hardly noticeably. However, these relations shape us (and future relations) in some way or another, and it is for us and us alone to decide if those experiences are positive or negative.
A few nights ago, I got to chat with a dear friend from Poland. He told me about an interesting book that he’d been reading titled, “I’m Ok, You’re OK”. The book describes a method called Transactional Analysis, which operates on the fairly basic theory that individuals are made up of three parts: parent, adult, and child. The parent part of our personality includes things that we have learned from others, statements such as, “Never do this, always do that”. The child aspect represents our basic impulses- the “I want”s. The adult element asks questions, such as “Why?”. All three are integral to our personality, but the adult part is what struck me the most. It is logical and rational and allows you to analyze your interactions with people in a similar manner. Transactional Analysis is essentially a tool that we can use when interacting with others and making decisions for ourselves. The psychologist who developed this method postulates that we are prone to four reactions when dealing with people:
- I’m OK, you’re not OK
- I’m not OK, you’re OK
- I’m not OK, you’re not OK
- I’m OK, you’re Ok
I won’t bore you with the depth of the cognitive, humanistic, and behavioral backings of these components, but I think it is important to consider them when interacting with a person. More often than that, one of these acts as a base when we find ourselves struggling with differing perceptions from another. In a nutshell, it’s helpful to remember two things: do not simplify your perceptions by blaming one of the four social constructs above, and try to realize which of the three parts of a person you are engaging with (parent, child, or adult). Considering these principles has already made a huge impact on how I view my relations with others.
In a sense, then, the traditional sense of “reality” becomes unimportant, because our individual perceptions of ourselves/others and subsequent reactions are all that truly matter. I recently found myself in a situation in whichI had a very different perception of a series of interactions with another person. This was very frustrating for both parties involved, and it was obvious that both of us wanted the other to understand, if not adhere to, their view. After a few nights of tossing and turning, I began to think about what really mattered to me from that interaction. “Am I OK? Is it the other person? Are we both not OK?” Lying in the sunshine on the roof of my building, it hit me. I am not out of touch with reality: I am in tune with myself. I experience my own reality, just as everyone else experiences their own. This is certainly not a bad thing.
Last weekend, a good friend and I hiked Hallasan- the tallest mountain in South Korea. For several hours, we had nothing but stunning nature surrounding us; turns out, that’s quite the inspiration for philosophical musings. One topic that particularly stood out to me was the normalization of “healthy”. The world has developed an opinion of what is “mentally healthy” and if you stray from this, you are labeled as not healthy, not OK. So many strategies exist and are aimed at keeping calm, taking deep breaths through the anger, focusing on the positives and not being dismayed by the negatives. Although I see the potential benefits and good intentions of these ideas, I have to kind of call bullshit here. I am not talking about severe mental illness when I say this, but the normal every day feelings that all humans have the right to have. If you are happy, be happy: run naked into the sea with your arms waving in the air like a maniac, pick a bouquet of flowers just because, sing a song at the top of your lungs, whatever. Be happy because you are happy. If you are angry, be angry. If you are sad, be sad and cry. Feel anything that you want to feel until you don’t feel it anymore. Don’t listen to anyone else’s attempts to “snap you out of it” because, for you, that is what is real. To me, this is what is normal, and I applied this train of thought to my reflections on relations with people. You needn’t always agree, nor do you need to be dismayed if you realize that you have or had differing perceptions- of what is right, what is good, anything. Understand someone else’s three parts, but do not let them make you feel that you are not OK. All that matters for you is the reality that you feel, the combination of your PAC.
For me, that is good enough.