As a counselor at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando, I meet many people and hear lots of different perspectives expressed, especially about the rightness or wrongness of others.When I was a young girl, I used to listen to adult conversations around me.I heard lots of judging and criticizing in those conversations.Often, it seems, people are sure they know what is right and when other people aren’t (right, that is).
As a child, peoples’ judgments scared me. I tried really hard to listen to all the criticisms and use them to form a set of rules to live by–so I would be exempt from judgment, so I would know how to be right. As I grew older, though, I discovered that there were going to be too many rules to follow. Even worse, I learned that the rules could be contradictory, because different people had different ideas about what was right. It became quite a dilemma for me. The other problem was that there didn’t seem to be any space for me to make my own decisions about how I wanted to live and act—I was just jumping through the hoops of everyone else’s determinations about what’s right.
I have a storybook from when my children were younger, entitled Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young. The story begins, “One day, seven blind mice were surprised to find a strange Something by their pond.” Each day, one of them went out to explore this Something. The first declared it to be a pillar, another was sure it was a rope, another insisted it was a spear, and so on and so on. The last mouse came upon the Something and ran up one side and down the other, across the top and from end to end. “Ah”, said the mouse, “The Something is a sturdy as a pillar, supple as a snake, wide as a cliff, sharp as a spear, breezy as a fan, stringy as a rope, but altogether the Something is…an elephant”. The moral of the story—although we may get some information from the parts, “wisdom comes from seeing the whole”.
We live in a time and culture in which certainty is valued, as if uncertainty is a weakness, rather than an opportunity to gather additional information from other viewpoints.We may even be suspicious of different understandings.Someone once said to me, “Sometimes we don’t know we are lost in the forest, because the trees all look so familiar”.There can be a sense of comfort and security in being sure we are right.There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel secure.Periodically, though, we may want to step back and look from a different point of view, to give ourselves the chance to see in new ways, and find new possibilities.
When we choose to look at things from new viewpoints, we may find healing for conflicted relationships, or see options for getting out of stuck, despairing places. When we choose to look at things from new viewpoints, there is no guaranteed outcome, but a shift in perspective may well provide necessary additional information and stimulate creative solutions. We certainly have a better chance of seeing the whole.
One of the ways this can happen is to talk with someone who has been specifically trained to ask new questions and recognize different ways of interpreting experiences.If you feel like you need to see new viewpoints, or people in your life are telling you that you never understand theirs, consider contacting one of the counselors or life coaches at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando. Click here to read about the members of our team, and feel free to contact any one of us for a FREE phone consultation. Jean