Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's Your Perspective?

Something I have taken forty years to learn (and still continue to work on) has really changed my life for the better.

It is this:

Do not expect others to share your reality.

Obvious? Oh, I think not.

You'd tell me (and I'd tell you) that of course we don't want or expect everyone to agree with us.

and yet....

when we are in a group and someone says something way 'off the wall' or something that we completely disagree with, we look at them a little crooked.

Who is this person? They're insane. How quickly can I distance myself from this nut?

It's a natural response, for sure!

Here is the nugget: When we understand the fact that people have separate realities, it can be truly life changing. Their reality or view is allowable. It does not have to match yours. And, what's more, their reality does not negate yours (even if it is opposite).

When we get this, our world opens up.

We are free to have friends who are super different and enjoy that difference. Celebrate it. Laugh at it, even.

It's a beautiful thing.

Questions: Am I making any sense? Are you willing to give this some serious thought? Have you had any experiences with this principle? Let's discuss it!



ElanaJ said...

Dude, now I'm all nervous that I said something wacky today and you're questioning my reality! ROTFL.

My husband and I talk about this all the time (how we're not normal) and how we have to keep in mind that other people don't see things the way we do. I think that's what you're getting at. Sometimes their views are sooo opposite of yours, that it seems like they are insane. I totally get it.

Many times, though, I think what I must come off as to them. The answer? Insane.

Great post. Very thought-provoking. :)

Janna Qualman said...

You always make sense, Tess! :) And this I've learned in marriage especially, of late. But it applies to everyone, as you've stated, too.

Tess said...

Elana - no, today I just laughed and had a blast. No wierdness. Mostly, it's with neighbors or family relationships -- it's understanding that we don't have to just 'tolerate' people, we can completely accept them, differences and all!

Janna - thanks :D And, yes - so true in marriage.

Davin Malasarn said...

Tess, Yes, I think you're making sense. I feel like this is something that I have accepted and that I love about the world. I'm very willing to have my views of life changed or widened, and I love learning about people--annoyingly so, as I tend to ask a LOT of questions when I try to get to know someone. I just feel like everyone's views are shaped by their experiences and by their biology, and one can never be sure if they are right about anything, in the end.

Lisa and Laura said...

Very thought provoking. I'd like to think that I've embraced this concept, but I definitely have the tendancy to be a little judgy. Room for improvement I suppose.

Lisa said...

I've moved around a lot--lived in many different states and countries--and have found that my world rarely matches up with someone else's.

But that's the whole joy of life (and writing of course)--to not only accept other people's worlds, but to strive to understand them as well.

L.T. Elliot said...

I have to live this way. I have some family members whose faith is so different from my own, their tolerances so different from my own, and whose intensity is so different from mine that I cannot coexist peacefully with them if I am not willing to accept that their realities are theirs. (holy long sentence.) I'm not perfect, by any means, but I'm trying to practice this concept. I used to be pretty narrowminded and I don't like that girl I used to be. I'm happier and like myself better when I'm willing to empathize and try to understand another person. It took me a while to learn that doing that didn't threaten my own beliefs--it supported them and made them better. (Sorry for the long comment.)

Scott said...

Tess - it's thirty-ten years, not forty, and forty is the new thirty, just in case anybody asks!!!

I came to this same conclusion many years ago. I hang out with an ecclectic group of friends. There are commanalities that bind us together, and then there are the disparate differences (realities, perhaps) which show our uniqueness.

In the end, we are all individuals living in our own pretty little worlds. We are, for that matter, dystopians, because utopian societies are not all they're cracked up to be. Our individuality makes us shine, sometimes too brightly. As my one co-worker often says when we get into heated debates on subjects - well, we'll just have to agree to disagree! That's my philosophy in life . . .even when consuming margaritas and arguing with my best friend in the Universe. I love him dearly, but sometimes his reality is a little bit too warped for me.

Great post.


Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I'm with you. I agree with you too. It's really fun when this happens minute by minute in your own family or your family of origin--certainly teaches a lot!
~ Wendy

Suzanne said...

I often wonder about colors. Is my purple your purple? I mean, I can look at something and say that is purple, and you can agree, but how do we really know your purple isn't really my green?

Do I need more or less coffee?

Robyn Campbell said...

Tess-I wonder all of the time, why can't people just be normal like me? Kidding of course. But everyone dances to their own beat. I learned this many years ago. It's what makes the world go round. And it helps in our writing world, for sure. My characters don't always act like I want them to. And they do things I never dreamed they'd do. Just like in life. :)

Danyelle said...

Beautiful thought, Tess. :D I agree 100%. I think sometimes when people forget to see this, they might feel threatened when someone doesn't agree with them. Life is so much better when you see people as friends, rather than as people that you must bring to the same understanding as yourself. I think if more people learned to think this way--that another's opinion does not render yours invalid--we'd have a much happier world. :D

Tess said...

Davin - biology and culture play such a huge role in our varying realities. It's what makes travel so much fun!

Lisa and Laura- me too. That's why I say I'm still working on it. The times I get it right, though, are pretty cool. All the stress falls away and I can look at that person and see them for all the good that is there.

Lisa - yes, like Davin said as well, culture, biology. How boring it would be to travel the world and not see the beauty of the differences?

LT - my family is on the zany side as well (though they'd tell you I was the zany one!) See? It's all perspective :) And, love a good, long comment -- thanks!

Scott - thirty-ten, lol! Sounds like you've got this principle down...I'm a little slow sometimes ;)

Wendy - so many of life's lessons are minute by minute for me. And, it seems to be most evident in family relationships. Great points.

Suzanne - no more coffee for you, girl. Purple is purple is purple. Isn't it ;)

Robyn - lol! That's what my hubby always says when he has a difference of opinion. "Why can't everyone see the error of their ways and realize my constant correctness?" It's tongue in cheek, but a good discussion point.

Danyelle - I love your comment about how it would really change our world if we really 'got' the concept of how another's differing opinion does not render your opinion invalid. Man, to think of the implications...peace, perhaps?

B.J. Anderson said...

Yes, you're making sense! I worked in retail for a long time and I had to really look at people and ask myself why they were acting the way they were acting. If they were being a jerk, I tried to see things from their perspective. If they were crazy, I tried to find out why. And I worked with a lot of "weirdos" but the were really great people when you got to know them. :D

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Yup. I think that's why I have so many different types of friends. I like that they all are so different. It makes life more interesting. how boring would it be if we were all the same?

Lady Glamis said...

Beautiful post, Tess! It is so important to understand other views and be accepting. I think Beth's post yesterday about trusting ourselves and our readers really hit things on the head.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

This is exactly what happens when I tell my kid, "clean up your room."
His perspective of pushing the legos under the bed and mine are really quite different.
The same with cake. My idea of a small piece of cake and my husband's are not at all the same.

Tess said...

BJ - I can see how this would be super important in retail, or any kind of work, really. Funny how some of my dearest friends started out as 'that wierd girl'. What do they think of us, I wonder?! lol.

KarenAmanda- so boring! I have a long story about that, will have to save it for another time...about a time I was able to share that lesson w/ my daughter. Thanks for jogging the memory :D

Glam - oh, a link...thanks!

Amy - you silly girl. but, it does help w/ relations .. I let the messy room go. Who cares? I force them to do laundry/sheets once a week and turn a blind eye otherwise.

PJ Hoover said...

We have to all agree to disagree. It's what makes us get along and enjoy life. I totally agree!