I was shocked for the first 3 months since I started my post-graduate in England as I could hardly communicate with anyone in English. Neither the high scores at IELTS exam or over a decade studying English back home helped. I was able to read written English and write basic business or academic texts pretty well around some familiar topics, but it was surprisingly difficult to properly understand spoken language in day-to-day contexts and especially when it came to expressing my thoughts, ideas, feelings or to fully describe what I’d got to say, outside the framework of the topics that I had studied before from text books, or English classes at schools.
I found myself in the position similar to a child, learning the early words to be able to communicate and also to adapt to the social contexts that he/ she was in.
Though the differences between myself and a child were obvious:
Firstly, I was a grown up, at an oder age than a child, no argue!Secondly, I had preconceived thoughts and belief, which resulted from cultural foundations.
For this second point, I mean: I already had firm ideas of good & bad, right & wrong, beautiful & ugly, acceptable & unacceptable, etc, that is: I already had clear and firm bias - or inclinations For Or Against something. That’s probably why I wouldn’t be as adaptable to new environments as a child who had no former preconception or notions would be. I must admit that I was rather frustrated and impatient when I couldn’t understand new concepts, or couldn’t find the words/ ways to properly express myself and when being misunderstood.
I was indeed facing a fascinating transition in life: adapting to a new exciting environment, whilst struggling not just with the language barriers, but also with accepting and facing the cultural differences which quite often clashed with my preconceived ideas, definitions, thoughts, and beliefs about how things should be.
Through out all my life up till this point, I never really wondered if what my parents, relatives, teachers and society had taught me were Right or Wrong, because, for me as a child, and probably for every single Child anywhere in the world, everything it was taught was preset as “Inherently Correct” and “Must Be Right” as it had no other choices or reference points to even doubt it.
Living in a new country, experiencing a new culture, and especially when it came to the point when I started dating with an English man, my preconceived thoughts and belief that I had been holding tightly became at tests. An example:
- When my boyfriend’s uncle was ill (seriously ill), I suggested that we should go visit him at his house and we should bring some fruits or food as gifts when we turned up at his place. But my boyfriend said we were going to meet his uncle at a Pub and we could buy him a pint of beer if I wanted to offer him a gift.
I honestly couldn’t make sense of why we would do that given the circumstance that the uncle was really ill. It didn’t match with anything that I had been taught since I was born about what we should do when visiting somebody who was ill.
The more I tried to explain to my boyfriend about how I think we should do or act upon some certain events the more frustrating the conversations would be. My boyfriend would not act in the way that I suggested (even if he understood my points a bit), because he himself did not feel appropriate to do so, he himself - like me - grew up with his own belief about how things should be, but just Different from my one!.
Even though I still could not understand why we would ask an ill person to go out to a pub and buy him a beer, as to me going to a pub and drinking beer was for socialising meet-up, some kind of having fun, not as visiting an ill person; I had to reluctantly did it the way people here had been growing up with. But I still thought that it wasn’t the Right way, and that the way I suggested - the way I had been taught in my culture - was “better” and “more correct”.
Over the years, I had encountered with infinite events that put me in the similar position in which: I didn’t and couldn’t approve the ways people acted upon certain things, and I could only see the ways that I had been taught were Right and Better.
Holding tight to my own thoughts and belief that brought me so much pain and struggles in relationships, I gradually came to realise a lesson, that: We will have to face and go through the same/ similar unpleasant events or situations again and again, which makes life and relationships quite often become difficult, Until We accept that Other People’s Ways of looking at and act upon things are also valid and let go of our own ideas of How things Should be!
In other people’s perception: the ways they think and act out must match with their own Perception and preconceived Belief (or conditionings), just as how You do that yourself: You look at/ think about/ act upon something by matching it with your reference system (which is your set of values and definition: good/ bad, right/ wrong, should/ shouldn’t, beautiful/ ugly, pleasure/ pain, love/ hate, acceptable/ unacceptable, etc) as you have been taught by Others (parents, relatives, teachers, society, etc) through out your life since birth.
If you notice closely enough, you would see clearly that your children copy exactly the way you react or judge something: Oh that’s not good! You cannot do that! Don’t do that, Do This! Don’t say that! That’s not good for you! That’s not lovable! Oh my god that snake looks scary! etc.
And then, when your little babies becomes toddlers, often enough they asks: Mum/Dad, Is this spider scary? Is that cat lovable? Is this experience nice/ likeable? Is this weather hot? Is this character in this cartoon good? etc.
Do you see that you play a huge role in teaching your children how to judge, react and define how things (in fact every single thing) should be?! That was exactly the same way you were taught when you were a child!. And that is just only one first layer of definitions that you taught your children. Your partner, parents, relatives, and then their teachers at schools, other adults, their friends, and whole the society contributed layers by layers and also alterations into your children’s perceptions about how the world should be. The children grow out from all these teachings, then live in their own world model without even doubting it at all, just as how we all have been living our lives since birth!.
All these beliefs, concepts, and preconceived ideas were not originated from Your Self, they are collectively formed and passed on from previous generations and affected by current societal mass. This is the reason why so often we wonder but cannot find the answer for Who We Really Are! as deep down we feel that the ways we have been thinking, behaving, wording, believing, judging, reacting, making choices/ decisions/ assumptions, etc, are Not in alignment and do not truly reflect our True Nature.
In order to eventually realise Who We Really Are, we first need to wake up to the Truth that we (everyone of us) have been living our lives under our conditionings - or in other words each person’s own world model varied from person to person due to our own unique set of backgrounds and what each of us has been taught since birth until the time we wake up!.
When you do not/ cannot agree on something with somebody, you need to remember that you both are in fact talking/ arguing about two different things in two different world models, and that would never work out!. Be Tolerate! and Understand that You cannot Change Others, just as Others cannot Change Yourself!
The Only Way to improve relationships is to Start Changing Yourself into an awaken version of yourself who understands and compassionately accepts that Nothing is Absolute, including your own perceptions, whilst sharing your own point of view with others without imposing or defending it!.