Causality: What You Did to Me
When it comes to the heated interactions between people, we often think in terms of one-way causality; what you did to me has an effect on me, or, I did a certain thing to you and it had an effect on you. In reality though, our interactions are much more complicated than this.
We want to see things simply
It is tempting to think that things are simple and that we are less responsible than we might really be. We want certainty about the things that happen and we want to be able to understand things in an unambiguous way. We often also have preconceived ideas about what we are and what the other person is, and we are keen to have these notions reinforced; so we look for evidence that strengthens these ideas.
In our efforts to understand and assign responsibility, simplicity is tempting. We want to see interpersonal events and people in more simple terms than they actually are.
Things are inevitably complicated
In reality though things are much more complicated. Interactions between people tend to happen as a complex product of the strengths, weaknesses, desires, goals and the emotional ups and downs of both people involved. Our responses bounce off and interact with the responses of the other person. The things that happened to us in relation to other people are almost always an outcome of complex joint interactions, rather than simple “what you did to me” explanations that we are so drawn to. You and I swirl around each other.
Taking the time to understand
To some people, one of the benefits of psychotherapy is to take time to understand ourselves and the interactions that we have with other people so that we can understand them in their complexity and the role that we play in the things that happen to us. It is through this process that we can take responsibility for what we do.
Tell me what you think in the comments.
– Tim Hill
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