We See the World as We Are

Jenny's Story – Constructionist Principle

Ross-Letterbox-300x224My friend from childhood, Jenny, is a nurse, a wife, an animal lover, excellent gardner, a great cook and a talented artist.  I love her deeply.  She’s my dear friend, and even though we’ve had some challenges, and times of separation over the years, we continue to be there for each other.

Constructing our reality

For around 15 years, I equated my Jenny with gloom and doom! She lived her life as if the world were a war zone.  She struggled in the trenches – all on her own, single-handedly fighting off the enemy  – enemies – all of whom were out to get her: her family didn’t love her; girlfriends were selfish (they all abandoned her); her boyfriends had been users; she ended up with a mean, miserly husband; she’s had hurtful, nasty bosses; the hospitals she’s worked have all been living hells; the patients always complaining and not lifting a finger to help themselves. She was exhausting. She was hard to be around. To be in her company at that time in her life was draining and de-energizing.

I tell her story, not because I like it, and she’s long since moved on with help and support, but that’s the story she lived at the time and I believed her, she believed her and the world performed just as she saw it and expected it would.

How we show up in the world

And that’s truth!   A Truth! It’s just how we talk about stuff, and the language we use to talk about ourselves, our families and friends and colleagues, bosses, companies, industry, politicians and countries that reveal how we see the world.  It’s how we show up in the world and how the world shows up to and for us.  You know it’s not:  we describe the world we see.  It’s we see the world we describe.  And when we describe it, we create distinctions that govern our actions. It’s our language and the words we use that shape and create our own truth and reality…and potentially our destinies.

And truth is: tragedies happen, financial crises, natural disasters, illnesses and death occur – we don’t choose them, and they change us. It’s how we chose to respond that counts and you know that.

Jenny is now a very different person. That husband whom she described as mean and miserly, she now describes as loving and generous. He hasn't changed. She sees him differently and her experience of him is totally different.  They have constructed a new reality together.

Something to Ponder:

How deeply programmed are we to focus on the problem side of life Vs the developmental side of life? Those of us with children – do we see them as problem children or developing children? How do their teachers see them? In our workplaces, how do we see our employees and our leaders? It is all embedded in the beliefs we have which are reinforced through our language. The language we use shapes our reality.

To learn more about the five foundational principles of Appreciative Inquiry and read real life stories of their application, you might like to download the app Appreciative Inquiry – An Introduction from iTunes or Google Play app stores.