Today I am going to write something different. Maya Angelou is my favorite poet. I read an incident about her recently. She was sitting, waiting for her turn to speak at a graduation.
Maya Angelou, while waiting, was flipping through the newspaper and did something that Man sitting next to her thought very odd. She paused at several pages with photographs of a person on them, rested her left hand on her heart, and stayed like that for a few moments. Each time, her face lit up in a grin as if she held the moon in her mouth. When she had gone through the entire section, she thumbed back to the beginning, and started the process again; only this time as she paused at different photographs and placed her hand on her heart, she shook her head sadly.
Man couldn’t resist asking her what she was doing.
“I am practicing,” she said. “Yes, this is my practice. At first, all of these people seem very different from me. The first time I go through the photographs in the paper, I pause at the pictures of people who have done remarkable things—built skyscrapers or discovered a cure for a disease or negotiated a peace settlement—and I say to myself, Well, if I can recognize that in them, it must be in me somewhere too or else why would I even be intrigued?
So I just wonder for a moment, What does that remind me of in myself that I’d like to grow?” It took a minute for her words to really sink in, but when they began to sprout in the man's mind, man responded, “That’s lovely. I get that. But then why, if you don’t mind my asking, do you go through the paper a second time?”
She looked up at the man from under her eyelashes and said, “That’s the hardest part of the practice. The second time I scan for people who have murdered or raped or destroyed something precious. This time when I pause again in recognition, I say to myself, Oh yes, that’s in me, too; there is a dormant dark part inside. How can I delve in to discover the need under that destructive behavior so I can find a positive way of meeting it before it erupts?”
This incident literally made me tear up.
How do two people in a relationship who are so very different can be so in sync. Studies have shown that each person possesses many kinds of intelligence, including rational and relational.
The former divides information into discrete facts, processes, and logic. Try to use your rational thinking when relating to someone who thinks differently than you do. You’ll find yourself overthinking, trying to figure out whether you should say this or that, be this way or that way, do this thing or that thing. No matter how smart you are, your mind can become like a frustrated kitten tangled in a ball of yarn.
The more you try to unravel the mess, the worse it gets. You become lost in your limited capacity to know or grow or re- late to the mystery of your uniquely different ways of thinking.
Relational intelligence, on the other hand, connects things, creates meaning, and offers understanding about how to relate one person to another.
Most of us have been schooled in rational intelligence, but have never had specific formal training to foster relational intelligence.
The more marvel & mystery that are present between you and your partner, the higher the chances will be of that special kind of intelligence growing.
Think for a minute about what it’s like to sing in harmony with another person. Each of you allows your voice to come forward, fall back, and then merge to create beautiful music.
It can be the same when we are in a relationship with a person very different than us. If you know how to discover it, there is a pulsating energy, an intelligence between you that can facilitate each of you achieving far more together than you could alone.
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