In my counseling office, I have had the opportunity to listen to individuals’ journey, traumatic experiences, childhood pressures, expectations, etc. Over time I have come to recognize that although many people share similar experiences, their perspectives on how they view these experiences are unique to each of them. The following are some examples:
Incident: Car Accident
Scenario #1: A mother and her young son are in their Honda Civic driving to a medical appointment. They are engaging in a fun conversation when unexpectantly they are jolted with a hard hit by another vehicle sending them off into a whirlwind of screams and tears. The mother describes her fear and worry about her young son’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Her son cannot stop crying for his mother. His mother turns to him and with a loud voice says, “Oh My God! Are you Okay?” The screaming and yelling cycle continue and feels unending. They both have a difficult time calming down. The mother’s thoughts are consumed with ‘How can God let this happen to us?’ ‘Why did He not prevent this from happening?’ Their experience is viewed as catastrophic and appears to have resulted with symptoms of PTSD – ruminating thoughts, flashbacks, hypervigilance, debilitating fear of crashing noise, etc.
Scenario #2: A mother and her young son are in their Honda Civic driving to a medical appointment. They are engaging in a fun conversation when unexpectantly they are jolted with a hard hit by another vehicle yet were able to control their emotions and remain calm. They both check on each other for reassurance that they are both safe. The mother quickly turns to prayer and thanks God for their safety. With a soft voice, her son asks his mother if the people in the other car are okay. His mother again turns to God and asks Him to keep the other individuals safe. They embrace and cry softly in each other’s arms. Their experience is perceived as God was there to protect them and were able to show compassion on others.
The question here is Why do people have different perspectives and reactions to similar events as others? It dependent on several aspects: core beliefs, childhood experiences, learned behavior, values, and social messages. What’s important here is to understand another person’s perspective, not necessarily agreeing to it. Everyone needs to feel understood, valued, and respected. Avoid judging others’ reactions and begin to understand the back story of the person’s situation. We are all unique individuals and experience incidents, situations, and events differently. That is what makes us a diverse universe!