We live in a world of symmetry. For every left there’s a right, every right a wrong, every up a down. And that’s what makes it beautiful. True beauty is found in symmetry.
When you think about one of the most beautiful faces you’ve ever seen, you’ll realize that it was the near-perfect symmetry that made it appear so beautiful. The features on the left side of the face seemed to match up perfectly with those on the right.
I know they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if that beholder’s eye can identify the symmetrical balance between the left and right sides, then that eye beholds the true beauty.
We should also train our non-physical eyes to see the two sides to every story. I like the biblical quote that says, “The first to speak in court sounds right – until the cross-examination begins.” It is best to hear both sides before we judge. That is why the concept of just believing all accusers – women or men – could be very dangerous to any society.
The same way that there are two sides to a case when judging, there are usually two sides to a person’s behavior. Like in symmetry, we have two hands. On the one hand, this; and on the other hand, that.
A friend of mine once let me stay with him in his apartment at a time when I had no place to stay. In the mornings, when I’m taking too long in the shower, like I typically do, he would come knocking to inform me about the appointment of the day that he had to catch. I would then respond by letting him know I’d hurry up, but he’d always reply with, “No, take your time bro.”
So which did he want? Did he want me to hurry up or for me to take my time? Why would he come tell me about his appointment if he didn’t want me to hurry up? Of course I knew he wanted me to hurry up. I also knew that two things were driving his behavior at those moments – the need to prepare and leave early for his appointment and the need to be/seem hospitable to his guest. So his behavior seemed conflicting but I totally understood it.
You can’t always assume that there’s only one factor driving a person’s behavior. You can’t appease only that one factor and think everything will be okay. On the one hand, there’s this and on the other hand, there’s that. You have to appease both hands. It’s the principle of duality.
Sometimes, you can’t immediately appease both hands though. Sometimes, one hand is heavier than the other. The human right arm is usually stronger than the left for most people. It is used more frequently and so becomes more muscular. It slightly loses its symmetry with the left arm as time goes on. It becomes the dominant arm. When you can’t immediately appease both hands, it would be wiser to focus on the heavier, more important, dominant hand first and then tackle the less important one later.
My mum had been vehemently against me getting married to a foreigner. I thought that was the only problem – marrying a foreigner. You know, what will people say? But then we attended a wedding together one time where there were lots of Nigerian ladies and whenever I started a conversation with any of them, she would appear there and find a way to cut us off. Her behavior was quite conflicting. I thought she would’ve rather encouraged such conversations as part of her bid to discourage me from ending up with a foreigner, but then it was looking like she didn’t want me to end up with anyone at all.
The principle of duality was at play. On the one hand, she didn’t want her son with a foreigner because it just does not fit the worldview of her circle. What will people say? On the other hand, she couldn’t bear to lose her only child to anyone, foreign or domestic. And that was the more dominant hand at play.
I couldn’t appease both hands. I tried to appease the more dominant hand by showing her I was there for her anyway I could, but it still wasn’t enough. She’s had to adopt a child now in preparation for ‘losing’ me to someone else. Her own way of appeasing the heavier, more important, dominant hand first.
It’ll now be easier to tackle the less important one of what people will think or say, next. Because, frankly, who really cares what people think or say? Everyone has their life to live, and they’ll forget about yours in a moment.
To understand and influence human behavior, you have to be conversant with the principle of duality. There are two sides to a story. There are two arguments to a debate. There are two motivators to an action. It’s symmetry. Just like the human body is made up of equal and opposite parts on either side of its symmetrical divide. And they function together to achieve one purpose; the human mind has its own left and right sides that work together to make one decision.
On the one hand, this and on the other hand, that.