How do you see yourself through your eyes? How do you see yourself through the eyes of others? Is there a difference?
In the therapy course I attend, we discuss this quite often: Why is understanding perspective necessary? How is it that two people can see the same situation differently? What is perspective?
Once again, I will call on Merriam-Webster for an official definition, “the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed; places the issues in proper perspective (point of view). The capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance ‘trying to maintain my perspective’ “.
Besides thinking about perspective in therapy, it has been coming up a lot at home as well. I try to see situations from another persons’ point of view if we are having a discussion or perhaps a disagreement. And that technique has allowed me to be quite a bit more self aware and generally more calm. It is important to understand that each individual will see things from their own perspective, because each individual experiences different emotions, holds different values, and has different skills. And that is what makes the world go ’round.
But a situation arose this past weekend that sort of through me for a loop:
I met up with an old acquaintance from childhood; we have known each other since before kindergarten, playing hide-and-seek on the back streets of our neighbourhood. Hide-and-seek turned to grade school, grade school to high school, and then we eventually lost touch.
We met for drinks with other acquaintances from younger years, and over the course of the evening a couple references were made to how these people viewed me when we were younger – my life, from their perspective. A very different life than the one that I lived. They knew a Shannon that I had never met.
Apparently, from their perspective, I looked like I had it all.
What I had in high school was a turbulent relationship with an alcoholic mother; I had pressure from friends to drink alcohol and use drugs, and I found myself in situations that were less than desirable. I put pressure on myself to be as good/fit/smart as my older sister. I was bullied in grade school, and the first two years of high school; eventually I became a bully to hide my real emotions – something that still holds deep regret in my heart. Most days I skipped class to avoid the hallways of people. I was depressed, and at times I was suicidal, and I couldn’t wait to never step foot in the hallways of that school again.
Today I will ask you to challenge yourself to see someone from a different perspective. Perhaps that person looks like he or she has it all together, but in reality they could really use a friendly smile, or a helping hand. Look under the social expectations and material possessions that we hide behind, and call on yourself to be better. Look deeper. Be kinder. Smile.