Everyone has a Back-Story

As we watch the latest movie blockbuster we find the characters of the story more interesting if we know something about them beyond the tiny slice of their lives we are seeing in that moment. Writers and directors give us deeper glimpses of the characters through what is called the back-story. This back-story helps us connect and identify with them. Often a good movie writer and director can even lead us to feel sympathy for, or at least to understand, a story’s villain.

There is a lesson to be learned here. Our interactions with our loved ones do not simply take place in a present moment in time. Each of us brings our own back-story into the conversation or activity. That story includes all our experiences, beliefs, hopes and fears, successes and failures, and perspectives.

When we are frustrated, bewildered, or angry over the words or behaviors of one of our relationships, we can seek to understand their back-story and come to know them better and more clearly see where their perspective is coming from. We will better comprehend why they did this or said that.

We might discover or remember things about their family of origin that explain their unique point of view; we might learn of a painful experience that has shaped their attitudes in different ways than our own. Or we might just discover they had a bad experience at work that day.

A back-story does not excuse negative behavior, but it can help us to understand it and to better grasp the other person’s perspective. From there we will find it easier to show patience, forgive, and seek mutually satisfying solutions to relationship issues.

Take the time to learn or remember the back-story of those you love.