The Mercy of Strangers

Posted on October 4, 2012


At my Mission Valley office, the tenant parking lot for our building is fairly close to an intersection.  This is only problematic at rush hour times.  The issue is that if there are more than four cars in line for the light, the exit gets blocked by the cars waiting for the light.  I have a strategy that I find quite effective for getting out of the driveway (and I don’t even have to be pushy to pull it off).  The key is to roll down the driver’s side window and not wear sunglasses.  My “Mercy of Strangers” theory is this: if other drivers can see your eyes, they will let you in.  If they can’t, they often won’t.  The anecdotal empirical data I have collected seems to support my theory (i.e. it is working for me).  My hypothesis is that if people can see your eyes, you become human to them.  If you are behind the window or sunglasses, you are just a car.  People let people in; they might not care that much about cars.

“What could this possibly have to do with couple relationships (which is mostly what you write about)?” I hear you cry.  I am glad you asked that.  It is all about the human connection.  When distressed couples become stuck in negative cycles, it is very easy to start to see one’s partner as this being that is always angry or critical or withdrawn or unavailable.  When we can take off the sunglasses and see the eyes behind, we can begin to see another person who is longing for connection, love, acceptance, and emotional security just as we are.  Seeing those softer more humanizing emotions is a good place to start the healing process.

Go ahead and experiment with my “Mercy of Strangers” theory.  Let me know how it works for you.  I welcome the additional data.

“I work with individuals, couples, and families to help develop secure connections
and craft manageable solutions.”

More information is available on my website  I am also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats

Scott Wood is a registered marriage and family therapist intern (IMF67385) and is supervised by Dr. Melinda Reinicke, Psychologist (Psy11011).