Decoding Perspective

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A man who is thinking that he is weak will start feeling weak. And thus, he will act weak. We feel what we think and we become what we feel. That’s the power of our thinking. And that thinking is guided by a solid and stubborn core inside us. Perspective- it has the power to nurture and

“We are living in the feelings of our thinking.”

Let’s understand this statement with an example. A man who is thinking that he is weak will start feeling weak. And thus, he will act weak. We feel what we think and we become what we feel. That’s the power of our thinking. And that thinking is guided by a solid and stubborn core inside us. Perspective- it has the power to nurture and reform this solid core. So what perspective actually is?

The Young Woman, Old Woman Ambiguous Figure (also known as My Wife and My Mother in Law) was created by an anonymous illustrator in late 19th century Germany, and reproduced on a postcard. William Ely Hill (1887 – 1962), a British cartoonist, produced a later, well-known version. The later, well-known version, was first published in the magazine Puck, in 1915.

The world is a global village. A village whose residents know nothing about each other. We are trapped in the buildings of our identities and differences. We call them our homes- our comfort zones. We have built them out of our feelings, emotions, convictions and thinking. These buildings have windows. The world is the landscape at which we gaze through these windows- our eyes. It is the way in which we see the world, not in terms of our sight but in terms of perceiving, understanding and interpreting it. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. These are the same windows that let others gaze inside our hearts and allow us to know what’s outside. The windows are oriented at different angles, positioned at different heights and have glasses that are tinted with our experiences and beliefs. Each person is living in their own building, looking at the same landscape with a different perspective. 

Perceptions are powerful as they produce the lens through which we see the world. The lens of each eye that views the world has its own focus, aperture and thickness. All of which determine the formation of the image in our minds. It is through this image that we judge the world around us. To understand our perception, we must look at the lens through which we see the world. It’s these lenses that shape how we interpret the world. Our windows express the relationship that we have with ourselves and determine our point of views, shape our ideas, perceptions and imaginations. We interpret everything we experience, through these windows. We seldom question their accuracy. We are often unaware that we have them. We assume that the way in which we see things is the way they are. Our attitudes and behaviors are the results of these assumptions. Powerful conditioning affects our perceptions. It has made a silent unconscious impact on us and helped shape our frame of reference, our paradigms, our windows. These perceptions are the source of our attitudes and behaviors.

The way we see things determines the way we think and the way we act. We project what we perceive.

We form our perceptions based on the information that reaches us. The flow of information, true or false, governs the way we see and the way we see governs how we behave. Our perceptions are deeply embedded in ‘what reaches us’.

We have trapped ourselves in our buildings. We don’t go out. Nor do we let anyone inside. 

But, there are an infinite number of such windows. We all observe the same world through our windows, seldom wondering about how the view looks from the other side. We have limited our view. We can only view what’s visible through our windows. We are never curious about what’s beyond that. Each person tends to assume that things are as we see them. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is but as we are, or as we are conditioned to see it.

When we try to describe what we see, we, in fact, describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When others share a different perspective than ours, we immediately think something is wrong with them. We fail to recognise that people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience. The more we are aware of our basic paradigms, views or assumptions and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, check them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby obtaining a bigger image and a much more objective view of the world. A magician creates an illusion and everyone thinks of it as reality but only those who have a strong belief system are able to see beyond the falsehood. They believe- not their eyes but their hearts.

We are so protective of our houses and ourselves that we don’t want to step out of our comfort zones nor do we allow anyone else to do so. This leads to a conflict of perceptions.

There are two methods to avoid that conflict. The first one is to go from buildings to buildings, looking in through different windows, trying to understand their ideologies, looking through their perspective. The other one is to go outside, in the heart of the landscape and then turn our gaze towards the windows.

 

We share so much in common, yet we are so magnificently different. We think differently, have different and sometimes competing values, motivations and objectives. Conflicts naturally arise out of these situations. But it’s upon us how principled and patient we are.

If we want to change our situations, we need to change ourselves first. And to change ourselves effectively, we need to change our perceptions. Trying to change the outward attitudes and behaviours will not lead to anything if we fail to look at the fundamental paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviours flow.

Our perceptions also show how powerfully our paradigms affect the way we interact with other people. As clearly and objectively as we predict we have a tendency to see things, we begin to realize that others see them differently from their own apparently equally clear and objective point of view. 

The paradigm shift is the experience when someone sees the composite picture of the world in another way. It moves us from one way of seeing the world to another. And those shifts create powerful changes. Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and behaviours, and ultimately our relationships with others.

Perceptions are inseparable from character. Being is seeing in the human dimension. What we see is highly related to what we are. And how we see events is also related to what we are. Some people believe in chances. Some people believe in fate, good or bad. And there are those who say- “There are no coincidences or bad incidences. There is only good guidance.”

“We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time”- T.S. Eliot

If we want to create minor changes in our lives, we can simply do that by focusing on our attitudes and behaviours. But if we would like to create big changes, we need to focus on our perspective. The specs that we wear should look good on us from others’ perspective but it should also clear our vision, broaden our view, bring more focus and brighten the world. When we wear a beautiful perspective, we nurture a beautiful world.

Written by Khansa Fahad.

References:

Ramadan, T. (2010). The quest for meaning: Developing a philosophy of pluralism. Penguin UK.

Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. Simon and Schuster.

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