Psychologist reminds parents to keep an open mind in conversations with their children.
In life, there are two sides to virtually everything. No matter what a situation may look like on the surface – whether it seems incredibly good, incredibly bad, or somewhere in between, there is an alternative perspective to consider. This double-edged nature of life informs the way we see the world, how we react to many situations, and how we deal with challenges.
Once an individual starts to think about the duality of situations, that perspective can help make sense of things and lead to some positive breakthroughs where not much positivity appeared to be present before. A story told on a recent TED Radio Hour podcast episode highlights how this can play out in the real world.
Psychologist Yuko Munakata was featured on this episode and spoke of a flight she took many years previous with her husband. During a trans-Atlantic trip, the plane encountered some severe turbulence and took some strong, powerful twists and turns along the way. This was more than the standard turbulence that is encountered on many flights – it was enough to send the food carts sailing into the ceiling of the plane and damage the interior along the way.
The crew was unable to offer much in the way of comforting words, as they didn’t know how long the issue would last or what lie ahead. Fortunately, the dramatic movements would eventually come to stop, and the plane was able to land safely at its destination. Although certainly shaken, the passengers and crew were okay and able to move on.
In the aftermath of the flight, Dr. Munakata and her husband had dramatically different responses to the experience they’d been through, taking different sides. After being told in a letter from the airline that the plane was never in any real danger and is designed to withstand far more than what was experienced, her husband felt reassured and was more comfortable than ever with airline travel. On the other hand, she remained disturbed by the experience and doesn’t approach flying the same way as before that flight.
According to the psychologist, this difference in reactions to the same explanation of the experience highlights why it is important for people to attempt to see both sides when discussing tough situations with teens. While some people will naturally be inclined to view things one way or another, making an effort to acknowledge and accept the other side can be a balancing force that helps to avoid extreme thinking. For parents, as an example, it can be important to look at situations from all perspectives to consider the various viewpoints and direct children in a way that is fair and reasonable.
There is no way to take the bad out of life, nor would anyone want to remove the good. The two are forever joined, and it would be impossible to have one without the other. Humans can benefit from always trying to see situations and events from multiple perspectives, looking at the other side of the coin to balance things out and hopefully come away with takeaways that serve them positively moving forward.