The Magic of Seeing the World Through Another's Eyes
How to set your opinions aside and open the door to new perspectives
Whenever I read, hear, or see something new or different, I ask myself three questions.
Is this how I think?
Is this how I want to think?
Can I let it in and see what happens?
That last question took some time to factor into the equation. By nature, we’re all a bit suspicious, with a tendency to dismiss ideas and concepts that stretch or challenge our accepted beliefs and values.
Yet, by setting aside snap judgments and irrational opinions, I discovered a way to create more headroom and flexibility in my thought process — as if I’d given myself permission to objectively observe the world in a completely neutral mindset. Frankly, this process didn’t just happen — or come easy. It was harder than it sounds. Because shifting away from auto-reject mode can put a lot of stress on a previously easy-by-default life.
Each of us experiences our own individual perception of reality, typically the result of cataloging, comparing, dissecting details, and forming opinions — good or bad, real or imagined. And by taking off our internal blinders, we can give ourselves permission to consider new concepts, ideas, and knowledge without bias or discrimination.
And then . . . something wonderful begins to happen.
We find we have a lot more in common with others
We discover new ways of motivating and inspiring others
The quality of our communication improves — because we’re no longer talking at people, we’re influencing them.
Granted, it took me a while to realize my personal perceptions may be completely foreign to how another understands the same situation — even though we’re talking about the same thing. And I’ll be the first to admit that finding commonality can be a challenge. But peeling away a few layers of doubt and distrust can be a great first step.
The idea is to create a new level of awareness in our personal paradigm. Yes, occasionally there will be differing viewpoints and opinions. But these are the discussions, subjects, and obstacles that, by their very nature, make life more interesting — reminding us to keep our mind’s door slightly ajar to new visitors.
Ready to experience the process?
Here’s how it works: Rather than replacing your existing filters — the ones responsible for opinion, attitude, or judgment — create a separate mental “holding area” in your mind to gather alternative viewpoints. This is the neutral zone, a safe place you can visit to consider and evaluate the other side of the situation.
An effective method of processing alternative perspectives is to submit the conflicting circumstance to a series of “what if” questions, for example:
What if there’s more about the situation I don’t yet know?
What if the individual is more qualified than I think they are?
What if this is a better solution to the problem?
At first, you may feel uncomfortable, because we tend to think we shouldn’t allow another person’s viewpoint to reduce the value or authenticity of our own. We may even believe by expanding our perspective, we’re unnaturally placing our subconscious in harm’s way.
Keep in mind this exercise is intended to gather information and insight, rather than subscribe to a new truth. And by retaining our own foundational beliefs (the ones we temporarily set aside) we can then determine how best to integrate our new understanding into our reality.
In health & happiness,
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Jill Reid is the founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and author of the Real Life Series, including Real Life, Discover Your Personal Truth, and Life in Small Doses. Available in eBook and Paperback from Amazon.