Sometimes, taking a different viewpoint or perspective can change your life.
I watched another short but fascinating video on the BBC News channel this morning.
Titled, “How I found out I was black,” it concerns Brazilian priest Brother David who had always believed he was white until a classroom game changed his perspective and indeed his whole direction in life.
It is well worth a watch and I’ve put the video link at the end for you.
Now, I am not about to begin analysing the wonderful and complex Brazilian multi-cultural melting pot. It is an incredibly diverse and vibrant part of the world and long may it continue.
What is interesting to me is the transformational aspect created when taking an unfamiliar perspective.
Brother David’s story
In this case the perspective shift was somewhat thrust upon Bro David. He had previously thought of himself as white and the whole experience appears to have been quite something for him. There will likely have been a complex whirl of emotions going on during the transformation, which started as a game conceived by some fellow students, and it subsequently led him to become an ardent supporter and champion of black rights and educational opportunity. Good for him I say.
One of the 4 key pillars of emotional intelligence is: understanding others.
It is an area many people dabble in and they can form a good understanding of the opinions, beliefs, values and feelings of other people but this is often only a superficial understanding. They then base decisions, relationships, negotiations, etc… on this superficial understanding. It’s a bit like reading a non-swimmer reading a book on swimming then jumping in at the deep end and expecting to front crawl like a champion.
Have you ever felt hard done by when judged by another? “They don’t even know the real me,” you say.
The real rewards are to be found at a much deeper level. There is an old saying about, “walking a mile in someone’s shoes,” before you make any judgements or decisions about that person. We can never truly know the whole story of course, unless we somehow become that person. We, however, can get a better picture than most by examining them from a distinct perspective; their perspective in fact.
Most people, myself included, are most comfortable viewing and experiencing the world from our perspective. It is generally termed the 1st person perspective.
The view of the other person concerned is known as the 2nd person perspective.
Give perspective shifting a try
Why not experiment a bit and stretch yourself by analysing situations, interactions and events from an unfamiliar perspective? What do you think the world looks like or sounds like from the 2nd person viewpoint? How do they feel? In what ways might their personal history impact their experience of the world? How might you appear to them? How might you sound to them? What might your words and gestures mean to them? How might they see the current situation from their perspective?
You will not necessarily be correct in your interpretations. In fact, you will most likely be wrong most of the time as we humans are not very good at mind-reading. What you will get a good handle on is the fact that people and situations are always far more complex and nuanced than we first believe. This knowledge will make you far more careful about judging other people and far more diligent in seeking to understand them more clearly and deeply through dialogue and shared experience.
Try this out with as many different people as you can. People you think you know well and people who are relative strangers to you.
It will not be easy at first, but give it some time and practice and you might find your interactions, and even relationships, with people improves markedly. You may well never think about yourself and your interactions with the world in a superficial way again.
Here is the BBC video link. Enjoy.