Why My Posts May Not Speak to You and What to Do About It
My Blog, My Thoughts
This is my blog and my website. This is where I post my thoughts, observations, beliefs, and perspectives based on my experiences, education, values, and the unique way I understand I am to leave my mark and impact the world.
If I’m saying anything worth saying, you will occasionally read a post you disagree with. You might think “This guy is writing this stuff as a relationship ‘expert,’ but it doesn’t apply to me at all–he has no idea what he’s talking about.”
There’s a simple reason for this: It is impossible for any one person to write anything that can be helpful to some that will not, at the same time, fail to resonate with others.
Nothing Applies to Everyone
If I publish a piece tomorrow about how the sky is blue as I’m looking out my window, that piece will be completely true from my point of view, but you may be looking out your window at a grey sky as you read it. It may even be dark where you live.
If you read that piece and think, “This guy has no idea what he is talking about,” you entirely miss the point. For that piece will be published on my blog where it is my job to write from my own point of view, my own perspective, how things look to me as I look out my window, so to speak.
If it’s dark where you live, your job is to say, “Oh, this piece may not be for me. It isn’t reflecting my experience.” Or you might read it and think, “While it’s dark right now out my window, Dave is saying some stuff about the sky as it appears in his window right now that I may wish to remember tomorrow morning, because the sky may be blue outside my own window then.” So you can either decide I have nothing to offer you in a certain piece, or that perhaps there’s still something in it for you, even if not in your current circumstances.
What I cannot do, what no writer can do, is write a piece that says something important that applies equally to every person, from every possible background, with every personality, every experience, and every personal, spiritual, mental, and psychological wound or issue.
Generalization is Necessary
I have to generalize in order to say something that can be helpful to more than one human being at a time.
I’m a relationship therapist, so I write about couples, relationships, and therapy and, to do that effectively, I have to rely a lot on broad lessons I have learned from my own experience. I will often use sex-based generalizations: “men tend to…,” or “women often…” These generalizations, like all generalizations, cannot apply equally to every individual human being, couple, and situation. I will normally point this out while I am writing, but will do so subtly, using modifying terms like, “sometimes,” “often,” “frequently,” “occasionally,” “tend,” etc. Those qualifying terms are meant to indicate I am generalizing, and I know it. The reader needs to decide whether or not what I’m saying applies in their own situation.
Your Work as the Reader
Sometimes as the reader you can do your own work as you read and ferret out how you may be an exception and how you can still benefit from what I’m writing.
For example, men, generally, have certain issues in relationships and women reliably have other issues. But there are always relationships where the male tends to think and feel the way females traditionally think and feel, and the female tends to think and feel the way males traditionally think and feel. If you read my work and think, “Dave is saying men tend to think this way or that, but thats not true, I’m a male and I don’t think that way,” then ask yourself if the way I have described a woman’s way of thinking applies better for you, and go ahead and flip the pronouns around so it fits your situation better. I’m going to write so as to reach as many people directly as I can, and if you need to make some adjustments in order to benefit from it, by all means, go for it.
Other times I’ll say things that are so far from your own experience and understanding that you just can’t find a way to connect to it on any level. That’s okay! Maybe that particular piece you are reading isn’t for you. Maybe I as a writer and thinker am not for you! Your job is to find the people who best speak to you and who you can best learn from, and my job as a writer is to speak my truth as clearly and courageously as I can.
When You Read, the Most Important Person is You
All I have written here is true not only for my own work, but for most of the things you will ever read. When you are reading someone else’s thoughts and words, it is you–with your own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences–that is reading it. How you read, your openness and consideration of the ideas being presented, the way you process it and react to it, is ultimately going to be as important, if not more so, than any of the words you are reading. After all, it is not what happens to us in life that matters most, it is how we respond to it.
All I have said here applies even to this post. Some may read this and think, “That’s fascinating, I’ve never thought about that before.” This piece is for them. Others may respond less favorably. Perhaps this piece is not for them.
What I most encourage people to do as they read my (or any) work, is to think about the responses a piece is provoking in them and where those responses are coming from. If one does that, one will find themselves benefitting from virtually anything they read, regardless of whether they agree with it.