I sometimes have the misfortune (entirely self-induced) of watching an episode of Bargain Hunt over lunch.
During a recent episode I was thinking about what a twat this lairy working class, gold chain wearing fella from Essex was, when I suddenly realised this was a sub-optimal reactive way of viewing the show.
In case you've never seen one the (I shit you not) 1683 episodes of Bargain Hunt, the general format is thus:
Two teams of two members of the general public team up with a celebrity antiques dealer, making two teams of three - the blue and the red team. Each team then gets given around £300 (or thereabouts) and has to buy three antiques from a local antiques fair, and the professional buys a further fourth item on their own with whatever cash may be left over.
The teams then head to an auction house and the items get sold - the team who makes the most money (or loses the least) wins. Whether they sell the professional's fourth item is optional.
Anyway, the lesson from Bargain Hunt...
It occurred to me that the entire expressive aspect of this Essex-man's his-self was really just about expressing the things in life that he likes, and the norms and values he identifies with.
At a deeper level this is probably all about the need for some kind of recognition of himself as a unique individual AND about who he feels he belongs with, the groups of people.
The reason I was sitting there thinking 'twat' was merely because ‘I’ don’t identify or like the same things that the person (I'd rather harshly labeled as a 'twat') on TV doing the expressing identified with and liked.
However, I have to admit that I also express an identity, albeit it a different one: I also use symbols to express the things I like and the people I identify with - simultaneously demonstrating to others who I feel I belong to, and how I am unique.
So in a way, whatever identity someone is expressing, they’re effectively expressing the same needs as me – the need for belonging and recognition as an independent individual, they're just attaching different symbols as a means to meeting these needs. getting this in a different way to me.
Then I realised that this person on Bargain Hunt isn't a twat at all, he's just like me.
Then came the further realisation that it’s quite easy to connect with this individual identity, or any other individual with an identity, at the level of need: simply by acknowledging the groups they feel they are important and the things that people identify with, it’s all so very very easy. It just requires giving someone a bit of attention.
Looking backwards, looking forwards
I actually already knew all of this at an intellectual level, I'd never felt it at a more emotional level before - odd that it should happen over Bargain Hunt rather than IRL (which I don't have much of a one of), but obviously this lesson is probably more useful for IRL situations.
It's also occurred to me that this whole process has something to do with recognising needs at the level of shared humanity, this is definitely something to do with Non-Violent Communication.
I guess the next challenge is to try and identify with the horsier middle class professionals that frequently grace the show, and if I can manage to feel a sense of connection to and antiques dealer wearing red trousers, I'll know I'm enlightened.
Or turn the T.V. off over lunch?