So much, so often, comes down to a matter of perspective. The more I look at the struggles I see around and within, the more I realize how much the importance of perspective is a key factor. Perspective is how we decide to look at something and experience it. It’s the start of learning and accepting our personal accountability in the world.
The point of looking at things with other perspectives is to exercise the mind and challenge our assumptions. After all, rarely are things exactly as they might first appear.
Example – Let’s say you have a box of old photos; these are old memories, some pleasant and some quite painful. If there is anxiety in looking at that box of photos, there is a good likelihood that the perspective is based on the apprehension of reliving old memories and hurts. If we can alter our perspective, which takes actual effort and mental discipline, we can see those old memories instead as something we either enjoyed or successfully survived – that we are still standing, living, and had not lost ourselves to those painful experiences. Through a change in perspective, we have become less a victim of our lives, and instead more triumphant despite the odds we might have faced.
The usefulness of seeing this as a matter of perspective is that it can bring things that seem or are objectively out of your control back into your domain of influence. We might not be able to change the past, or the actions of someone else, but we CAN change how we feel and experience these things.
Distortion vs Discomfort
Many people feel that looking at things through another lens, another perspective, is just a mental trick that distorts or twists reality into something convenient. In some cases, this may be true, as several behavioral disorders use various mental gymnastics to justify bad behavior, decisions, and actions. Ultimately this sort of distortion is using a change of perspective, an otherwise useful survival skill, in a perverted nature.
However, it could also be said that the very assertion that exercising perspective is all a lie actually provides a very singular and absolute rationale to NOT think about anything other than pre-existing conclusions. Essentially, an assertion in belief has been made along with the choice to remain there and preserve their comfort zone (even if it’s not healthy or objectively true) than face the discomfort of changing a view.
If we agree that “to assume makes an ass out of u and me”, as so often quoted, then why are so many refusing to exercise it? In a word, Discomfort. It isn’t always comfortable or convenient to entertain different ideas or to challenge your own assumptions or beliefs. But that is what perspective asks of us, to keep an open mind and be willing to look at things that can be uncomfortable, challenging, and even disagreeable.
Typically, when we distort perspective with extended chains of rationale, we are trying to move back into a zone of comfort. That’s a key sign as an emotional signal to ourselves – the more excuses, explanations, or steps in our rationale, the more likely it is we’re trying to force our feelings back into a comfort zone.
Let’s explore this through a few scenarios:
Vanilla Scenario: Someone walking in front of you drops their wallet; let’s assume you say something, call their attention to it. They retrieve it, but they don’t acknowledge you or your help.
Question: How does that make you feel, to have acted with the interest of another and have it passed in dismissive silence?
Perspectives: Consider why you spoke up – did you do this for them, for you, or some combination of the two?
- If you acted because its doing something nice for someone else, then motivation is external (someone else) – so the lack of acknowledgement might leave you feeling slighted or offended. In other words, your connection or attachment to this moment remains open and unsatisfied until they close it with the acknowledgement.
- If you acted because it felt like the right thing to do, then motivation is internal (for you) – so the lack of acknowledgement might not matter much. In other words, your connection or attachment to this moment was closed once you said something, leaving you free and clear.
- If you acted because you have lost your wallet before, and you know how that feels and don’t wish that on other, then the motivation is empathy or compassion for another – so the lack of acknowledgement feels incomplete, possibly sad, because a genuine moment of connection was missed due their preoccupation. After all, we’re all fighting battles the other knows nothing about, who are you to judge?
Lesson: How we change the perspective of our motivation changes how we may experience daily interactions. If we are motivated by approval or acknowledgement, then we are highly subject to others actions and behaviors – and potentially much disappointment or anger.
Vanilla Scenario: You are driving on the road at a reasonable speed, traffic is light and there are plenty of lanes available; nevertheless, someone comes right up behind you, tailgates you, and then passes and cuts in front of you before speeding off.
Question: How does that make you feel, to have a driver behave so recklessly when there are plenty of other options available to them?
- You might be enraged – this is no different than a personal attack or hostile form of harassment, especially since they could have easily gone around without issue, I’m gonna follow that dick and run them off the road!!
- You might feel panicked – you were minding your own business, why pick on you, what did you do to deserve this? Get off the road and find a safe and public space ASAP!!
- You might feel resigned – just another self-absorbed self-important ass on the road so preoccupied with their anger or issues they lost the ability to think, see, or care; humans suck. Fuck you fucker
- You might feel indifferent – hey, clearly this person’s got issues, whatever those might be. Stay cool and calm, let the chaos move around me, I remain untouched. Their problems do not necessitate change on my part.
Lesson: The perspective we start with is often the one that we end with. Are others out to get us, are we always picked on, or does humanity just plain suck? It’s not uncommon to “double-down” on the beliefs we’ve already formed. It’s hard to remain detached from those that TRY to influence us.
Lifestyle Scenario: A couple is having a scene next to you, and you hear the bottom (a self-proclaimed submissive) say “no, not like that, higher and to the left.. there.. now harder.. no not like that.. there, just a little lighter.. oh no that’s not right at all, look its simple, see them…”
Question: How does that make you feel, to hear a submissive or bottom micro-manage their scene top?
- You might be completely and totally offended to see a “Top” take this sort of talk, and never have seen such blatant “topping from the bottom” with such attitude
- You might feel a little awkward about the lack of tact, but perhaps the bottom is actually the Dom/me training a beginner Top
- Hey, to each their own – but I’m not digging the vibe this is giving off, so I’m outta here…
Lesson: How else might you look at this? What other types of reactions might you have, and what actions would you take based on those?
Our perspective is often something projected onto the world around us, our experiences start from that bias or framework. This is our world-view, and how we color it will define how we often receive it. No perspective is inherently right or wrong, black or white – after all, changing one’s perspective is strictly a mental exercise to check or regulate yourself. Rather, it’s a consideration about which view you choose as being healthier for you. The actions you take based on those choices is what determines whether those choices are actually healthier or beneficial for you and those around you.