15th Feb 2023

Oranges & Lemons

By Andrew Pearce

Oranges & Lemons

I was talking to my friend Mel about a tricky interaction I was experiencing. I was struggling to make sense of the other person’s behaviour and finding it quite upsetting. Even after years of training as a therapist and all the insights I have gained I was beyond frustrated!

She listened patiently and said, “ You know what they just don’t have the oranges!”

It was so simple and yet so powerful and reframed the situation in an instant. How had I not been able to spot that simple truth on my own. Our own blind spots are just that. Sometimes we just can’t see the wood for the trees on our own…especially when emotions are running high.

It’s very easy to assume that because something is obvious to us that it must be to the other too. It then gets really frustrating that no matter what we say or do, they just won’t or can’t get where we are coming from. If we are not careful we end up in a positional attack/defence dynamic.

It might be an obvious statement but others do not necessarily share the same values that we do, have a different perspective/agenda or perhaps are simply not as self aware.

This is probably especially true with our families and other close relationships. It’s easier and perhaps necessary to assume that we are on the same page.

Reminding ourselves that perhaps they don’t have the oranges (capacity) to see things as we do is a gentle way of descalating a situation. Perhaps they have lemons instead! That doesn’t make us right … just different.

For me that’s a great way to accept that they are them and I am me and that’s ok!

It’s a short hop from there to walking for a while in their shoes…even if they don’t fit me! In short developing compassion for the other.

I have offered this phrase to several clients recently who were struggling with difficult family dynamics and how loved ones were treating them. They all said that it transformed their feeling about the situation.

Perhaps somehow if it’s a “capability/ being wired differently” issue rather than something that is being done deliberately or with malice then it makes it less of a personal attack.

They may not have the “oranges” but they may have “lemons” and if we can work to accept that then it enables perspective…perhaps even peace….and that’s ok!

Andrew Pearce is one of our in-house therapists. He is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor. At FLiP Andrew’s practice includes supporting individuals and couples across a wide range of family issues.

Find out more about Andrew and his practice, by looking at his profile below. You can also look at our dedicated Counselling page for more support.