The World as you see it is not The World.
We are meaning making creatures. We have to be in order to make sense of the world we are in. To locate ourselves within a framework which provides us with security and safety and enables us to negotiate complexity. We shrink the world into our own world through a scale of recognition and familiarity. We internalise the world.
We will skew, adapt, interpret, deny and project so that what we see and experience is an internal representation or perception of external reality, framed by our previous experiences and understanding. We both replay and look for what we know. We put or create a meaning into an ambiguous situation. Our brain filters new experiences through a number of lenses – our values, our beliefs, memories, experiences, culture, emotions and expectations – all in effect reducing what we don’t know to align with and protect what we do know. Similarities are selected over differences. Uncertainty and complexity is reduced.
By seeing things from our own viewpoint and making our own picture of the world, we create our own limitations. We are obviously subjective beings by nature, however it is worth considering how this may not serve us in experiencing the breadth of the world; the other. If we are not aware of ourselves doing this, we may not be so open to exploring other perspectives and interpretations.
Where our innate subjectivity is projected into and onto the world it may create judgement. Our interpretation affects how we respond to people and situations and our behaviour. We may project the meaning that we make onto the motives of other people. We may ascribe ourselves the powers of mind-reading and assume we know what others are thinking. We may attribute negative interpretations to others because of our own hurts, as we revisit and play out old wounds and sensitivities, react to old triggers and follow old patterns. This can create problems in relationships and misunderstandings. Our experiences are just that; ours; interpretations from our viewpoint and so not the present event or situation as it it.
We make our own stories and then live them out so that new stories have threads that tie us back to the old stories and so we create continuity which can limit the opportunity for change. Stories are assumptions and explanations for scenarios we don’t understand. Justifications and explanations for emotions which are often triggered by past and unresolved hurts. These assumptions and comparisons are often unconscious, but we can chose to consider there are other stories and pictures.
It’s important that we acknowledge our own part in interpreting the situations we are in; that we are responsible for creating and attributing meaning when we may not have all the facts. We may have misunderstood and therefore may be creating misunderstanding. The more aware we are of when we do this, the more opportunity there is to be open to new stories.
These alternative stories can change how we chose to respond. So that we respond rather than react. We can consider rather than assume. We have the capacity to question ourselves before we question, challenge or accuse others. Self awareness allows for new and different stories, so that we can change how we live out our life.
Ask yourself, if you don’t believe that story, what would be different?