One of the hardest adjustments in life, is understanding the limitations of 1+1=2. We learn this equation first when we begin to learn math. It is the easiest to comprehend of all mathematical equations.
In life, its equivalent is the simple explanation or story we tell ourselves when trying to make sense of a situation, a problem, a world event, or explaining the characteristics of a person. We rely on 1+1=2 over and over again as the dominant explanation for anything.
We grab onto one fact or perceived truth and piece together a second for convenience. Quickly explaining why something is the way it is or what it should be with emphasis. We deeply believe that 1+1=2 cannot be wrong. It always gives us the right answer.
Yet in life, nothing is ever so compartmentalized. Context, perspective, and more knowledge turns every situation into something much more complex. Things are not as clear or distinct as first thought. Possibilities begin to appear that are different. No longer is it 1+1=2. Our increased understanding begins to bring clarity to what we first quickly assessed. Our initial 1+1 is now looking more like [(x+y)/(z*4)] to the third power.
1+1=2 seriously degrades the accuracy of our perception and limits our ability to listen and process new or different information. Jumping to conclusions is based on using 1+1=2 immediately without any thought.
In life, there is always more to any story. Often we can share valid points for either side of a story. Even with views or stories we don’t agree with. This is why I “check out” of conversations where what is said is constantly that 1+1=2. In these conversations, there is an insistence that it can be nothing else.
The challenge of becoming a better listener is to fight our instincts to run towards 1+1=2. We need to ask more questions along the way to open our eyes to other points of view and possibilities before deciding what the answer should be. Giving us the opportunity to become more patient with others and more effective, thoughtful, decision makers in all situations we find ourselves in.