“We are all captives of the picture in our head . . . our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.” — Walter Lipmann, American writer and political columnist.
We’ve often talked about separate realities, a term Sydney Banks used to describe the difference in each individual’s response to any given situation or event. There have been many studies to support the idea that we all really do see the world through different lenses.
The clearest example of this phenomenon may be seen in witness’ accounts of an accident. There are often vastly different interpretations of what occurred. One witness may swear the car involved was a blue Ford while another will be sure it was a gray Chevy. One driver may be described by some as 5’8’’, heavy set, mid 20s, by others as 5’11’’, muscular, mid 30s.
Another amusing example is a family’s response after watching a television show together. Depending on their line of work, ages, hobbies, etc. the viewers will notice different things. A teenage boy will comment on the racy sports car while grandma may not even notice the car. Dad might pick up on the clever advertising or the dynamic between boss and employee while mom may notice people’s body language and how they communicated. Same movie, different lenses.
As we notice these subtle differences in how we each view events, a door is opened to greater acceptance and understanding of another’s point of view, and being “right” takes on a whole new meaning. Maybe there are many sides to every question. Perhaps there’s something to be learned by another’s point of view, something worth considering.
That’s not to say we must bow to every opinion or perspective. We each have personal values and codes of conduct based on our life experience and our innate wisdom. We all have issues about which we feel strongly. What understanding about separate realities does, however, is allow us to see the other persons perspective as simply that—another perspective. It depersonalizes the situation.
We’re then able to move from an adversarial position of reactivity and “need to be right” to one of deeper innate wisdom and common sense.
For example, when we observe what we believe to be injustices or an abuse of power it’s far more effective to address it from a position of resolve and calm than from a position of anger and judgment. Remember, we’re smarter when we’re calm.
There’s a profound freedom that comes with seeing that we are all creating our own reality moment to moment. It’s testament to the amazing power of thought and to the abundant choices available to us at any given time. “My reality or yours,” both attempts to interpret the world, each one our own movie. Let’s make it a good one.
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