I was watching two 7-year-old girls in the playground. They were having a heated argument. I was really curious what they were arguing about but did not want to interfere, so I just keep watching them. The first girl, lets call her Sara said, “I’m right and you're wrong” and the other girl, lets call her Maya, retorted “I’m right and you're wrong ” and Sara went, “my mummy said that Annie is my aunty”, and Maya went “Annie is not your aunty, she is your helper”. And Sara went, “No, she’s not” and Maya went “Yes, she is” and Sara went, “no, no, no, no” and Maya went, “yes, yes, yes, yes”. And I thought OMG!!! Will you stop it already!!! And I went “You’re both right”!!! They looked up at me startled, and I carried on, “girls, you are both right. Annie is your aunty and she helps around the house so she is your helper too”. They looked at me, raised their eyebrows and started playing again. Phew!!!
This got me thinking about something I had read recently by the great Danish physicist and Nobel prize winner Niels Bohr about deep truth and superficial truths, and again I was presented with another example of it. According to Bohr, “in superficial truth, the opposite is false. In deep truth, the opposite is also true.” Bohr was referring to the notion that fundamental physical elements, such as electrons, are both waves and particles. The fact that electrons are waves of energy does not mean that they are not also particles, even though they are opposite.
The same is true of deep psychological truths. Beauty and ugliness, for instance are both deep truths. The fact there is beauty and hope in the world does not mean that it cannot also be ugly. The fact that a place is safe does not mean there is no crime. The fact that people act horribly and violently does not mean they are not capable of love and positivity. The fact that I am right does not make you wrong.
We do not see the world as it is; we see it as we are. We are the sum total of all our experiences and our experiences become our reality. So your reality is different from my reality.
In a conflict we often want to prove ourselves right and the other person wrong. In my coaching sessions when clients are in conflict, I ask them what if they were to assume that both parties are right. What if they could step in the other person’s world and try to understand what makes him/her think they are right? Once we know that both are right, we have a choice. Where do we choose to put our energy? Do we stay stuck in our map of the world or do we expand our boundaries and grow.