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Dueling Mental Pictures

by Jackie Woods

I love the harmony of good gospel singing. I guess that is because when I was in high school my mother sang in a gospel quartet for which I played the piano. So when I heard that a church in my community was going to have a sing-along of gospel songs, accompanied by “dueling pianos,” I grabbed a friend and rushed over. There were two grand pianos, each with its own pianist. The dueling part was about one pianist playing up and down the keyboard while the other one emphasized the melody. Of course, it wasn’t dueling in the sense as we normally think of it. But each pianist definitely had their own picture of how the songs should be played.

Recently I taught a class on how the mind can get fixated on a mental picture of how something should turn out. As I prepared the class, the dueling pianists came to mind. They both played each song well, but in their own way. How often do people do that?  They seemingly join their mental pictures, but really each is just doing their own thing.

In the class I recommended the possibility of both people agreeing to put all their picture pieces on the table to see which ones would best fit with the subject. In the end, neither person will do their “own” thing but instead will do the “our” thing. This means both people would be “performing” together rather than “performing” individually.

The dueling part of picture joining usually happens in the upfront discussion. This is when the emotions that backed each piece of the picture come to the surface. If you feel as if you are having to give up something, picture joining will never happen. So to move past trying to defend your picture to sharing pieces of it, you must understand that you are gaining more than you are losing. It is sort of like cleaning out your closet to add new clothes.

Once you get past the emotional attachment phase of joining, you will need to be open as to which of all the pieces laid out will best fit together to enhance the subject. If there is an unused piece that you still hold as valuable, hold on to it for later. Think of this process as a smorgasbord of possibilities from which to choose. And what isn’t used you can save for later.

Now when I encounter someone who wants to play out a scene separately rather than join, I realize that we can still play the same song in different ways. However, I am always a bit disappointed when we aren’t able to put some of our emotional attachments aside in order to create a bigger, more unified picture.  So if unity is a theme in your relationships, put some of these tools to use. While dueling separately – but in harmony – can be fun, joining mental pictures with another human being is both exhilarating and expansive.

Would you like support in joining mental pictures?

These selected recordings by Jackie will help.

Conflict Resolution by Jackie Woods
The Art of Joining by Jackie Woods
4 Parts of Relationship by Jackie Woods