2003-10-10 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

by Marilyn Gelfand
The Inner Voice by Marilyn Gelfand

What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name? People always ask what is your name as one of our first questions when we meet someone. We identify with our names and also others do too. It’s just about the first thing we want to know when encountering a stranger. With a name comes a box of standard judgments based on the previous experience of the individual. If someone is Biblical, the name Rachel may conger up a Bible story. If I watch "Friends" on TV, and love the show, I might think of that character. If my grandmother or ex-wife had the same name, I will feel something at the sound of the name. So, before we even get to know someone, we have to realize that our own baggage accompanies even something as simple as our name. We carry judgments about our own name also. Who we were named after, relative or movie star, or some special characteristic or attribute like joy or hope may indicate how we were viewed when entering the world. What we meant to our parents probably got picked up along the way.

So little of how we interpret our own reality is actually based on the facts. Perception and point of view have such strong influences these days. So, how can we possibly see the reality for what it is? It is usually a good idea to try to start to gather the actual facts or events for yourself. Before we change it around, it might be a good idea to write it down in a journal. If the facts concern something verifiable, check them out as best as possible so you can know what did happen first, second, etc. So much distortion happens when we forget the order of events. It may also help to discuss the situation with others who experienced the same moment. I am always astounded that people can be in the same place and time, and get something so totally different from the reality. I have been with people who couldn’t listen to a speaker because they didn’t like the speaker’s clothes. I remember being in a room with my mother and daughter, and my mom looked at me and said my shirt was too big, and my daughter said it was too small.

If you are aware that you are becoming emotional, it might be good to step back from yourself and see why you are feeling the way you do. removing ourselves from the situation for a few moments or just laughing at ourselves in our own predicament may help to see what is happening more clearly. Even having the awareness that I am bringing in my own beliefs and so is everyone else may help me remember that I am viewing what I experience through my own lens of perception.

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