Beliefs like lenses
Coloring our perspective
Can I try yours on?
Perfect empathy, if it exists at all, must be rare. We spend lifetimes with loved ones and friends, unlikely to ever know them fully. Yet, do not despair! Rejoice, rejoice, in that this must mean we have a journey to go on that is the exact distance between our mind and an ‘other’. An adventure to the ‘antipodes’ within to uncover the hidden connection without.
A treasure awaits.
If we were to catalog all of our individual beliefs about how the world works, how many would we not recognize? To think of this allegorically, if we were goldfish, living in a fishbowl with perfectly clean water, how many of us would understand the concept that we live in and breathe water? How many of us would grasp that our whole world view was warped via our curved enclosure? A good bet would be that an alarming minority would even come close to understanding these perceptions, and, even the most observant ichtyean among us would not be immune to missing something in the worldview inventory.
The good news here is two-fold: we aren’t fish living in a fish bowl, and, we have the gift (or curse depending on the shape of your bowl) of conscious thought. Basically, we are blessed with the ability to recognize that we might have blind spots, and, to actually do something about them.
Now, what to do with this power?
One idea is to combine this aptitude with the plasticity of our belief structures and to begin experimenting with new and different ways of seeing the world. Would that we treated points-of-views like wifi passwords, we’d be living in a decidedly different place. Ideas overflow for how we might go about doing this, however, the central theme to them seems to be “seek out different world views, conceptualize them, and take them for a test drive”. We might ask a friend for a book or a movie suggestion that they consider to be most influential. We might request an ideological opposite to describe their most persistent thought or feeling in the last few months. We might get into an uncomfortable conversation with our parents. We might ask dangerous questions of strangers. We might just push relationships to their boundaries. All, to seek out any novel ways of experiencing life and trying them on like a vintage coat in a thrift store or like another person’s glasses.
Why should we do this? That there would be a benefit and how much would depend heavily on the person participating in this experiment. And, possible side effects might be: paradigm shifts, pattern breaks, existential questions, pain, discomfort, and just maybe an option to actively choose how we view the world in any given moment.
Whether you believe the risk outweighs the potential rewards, or not,
you’ll be right.