What They Said, What I Remember…..

Below is a link to an episode from the radio show, The American Life.  The episode was aired on December 31, 2016, entitled, “Transformers”.  The particular part of the episode I’m referring to is entitled, “Act 4: Trail Breaker”.  The episode is 56:00 minutes long; the part I’m focusing on starts at minute 44:00 in the show and lasts for 12 minutes.  It is the story, told by Andrew Greer, of his “coming out” to his parents (specifically his mother) when he was a teenager, as told to a TAL producer, Sean Cole.

As the episode progresses, Mr. Cole switches back and forth between Andrew and Andrew’s mother as the story is told by Andrew and recalled by his mother.  What is so interesting is the discrepancies between Andrew’s recall and his mother’s recall of his “coming out” and the events thereafter.

As I listened, I thought of the people I talk with, especially couples, in my office.  People will recount events that have occurred with other people in their lives….and to hear the other person’s recollection, I wonder, at times, if they are talking about the same event (their stories are so different)!

But what is of even greater importance to me as a therapist is the fact that both Andrew and his Mom came to erroneous conclusions about the event and the other person.

How often do we do this; experience an event from one perspective and make important decisions about ourselves, the other person, and life in general, and we don’t realize there is other perspectives of the event and other conclusions to be made?

Sometimes, when I see a couple struggling with this phenomenon, I’ll hold my clipboard up between the two people and ask them to tell me what color they primarily see.  Typically, one will say white (my progress notes) and the other says brown (the back of the clipboard).  Then I point out how both are right, both disagree with the other based on their experience and part of their current problem is based on this phenomenon.

Take a listen and think about this critical reality the next time you (or your partner) have a disagreement.

LINK to ACT 4:  https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/572/transformers?act=4#play

FULL LINK:  https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/572/transformers