Family Mediation Center

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THE (sincere) DELUSION*

By Joy B. Borum, Mediator


We were all raised with a sincere delusion. Although no one ever warned us (or warned the people who raised us), we were brought-up in a world that invisibly divided reality into two parts only (this is sometimes referred to as duality or dual thinking):


right/wrong yes/no
win/lose light/dark
good/bad us/them
all/or nothing black/white
and on and on and on

Then, we often operate from those "truths;" and expect others to do the same. Only two ways to look at something, to think about something, to feel. Expectations. Unspoken rules. Projections onto others. Oops. Ouch.Yet, doesn't experience demonstrate that life is rarely that simple, that clearly marked, that obvious? Weren't the guys wearing the big, white, cowboy hats only in the B movies? But being raised in this artificially divided environment, we take these over simplifications for granted; sometimes take them as absolute truths often doing so subconsciously.

How many times have I heard a client say "What else could you expect me to do?" ""Why isn't he doing what any normal person would do?" "What's wrong with her?" "What's wrong with me?" "What's wrong with them?" Unhelpful at best; enraging at worst.

The answer, by the bye, to "What's wrong with me/you/her/him/them," is "Nothing." What you're seeing or hearing or observing or experiencing are almost always learned behaviors. While some things in this life are not acceptable, they can be learned...after unlearning the less helpful stuff. You and they may benefit from more awareness and support while modifying or replacing something that isn't working as well for you (and others) as you or they might prefer, but there is nothing "wrong" with you - or them.

The point is to not cast the ex or the children or the ageing person or the other heirs or the business partner in that 'ol right/wrong classification...not to stick them with the old, rigid classifications and ways. How about thinking of them as not yet aware, overtired, confused, scared, mad, or just plain ignorant meaning simply do not know yet at a level where they can function at that knowledge level? As one wag said, "Mistake makers…a perfect synonym for human being."

Mistake maker. Doesn't that soften your view of them and what's happening or not happening? Couldn't that view broaden and deepen how you look at yourself? And mighn't that open a space where change and conciliation could happen? A space for the other and you to be who you are and where you are, allowing the possibility of a better future?

None of this means you have to put yourself or continue putting yourself in the not working for you situation. That's what mediation is about.

*Or how I learned that different people can look at something and see it…differently.