On a regular basis, I am intrigued by the positions individuals and groups can take based on “the way things are”. (For those who have seen the movie ‘Babe’, you know why I picked this image) Depending on the issue or the emotion attached to it, I will occasionally try to ask myself the question, “Through what eyes is this person seeing the world?” I may even be brave enough to ask someone who is pretty darn certain about the ‘truth’ that their position embodies, “What causes you to think this way?”. Pretty consistently they will offer a list of beliefs or examples that support their position.
What I find so interesting is that most of us are really expert at selecting the ‘facts’ that support the story we have already crafted. We are equally as skillful at discounting a contrary view by disputing the ‘truths’ as seen by the other. We are amazing acrobats in our ability to attach our firmly held beliefs to one story but not another. And while intellectually we know that what we pick and choose as ‘facts’ is a function of how we see the world – which is intimately tied to our history, societal experiences and cultural influences – it’s hard to apply that knowledge at the times we could use it the most.
All of us have had experiences where the way we saw things at one time in our life, was changed because of a major event that shook us up and caused us to see through a more expansive lens. Has your view of something ever shifted because of how someone else framed it? What would happen if we were able to stop ourselves when we disagreed and asked, “Why am I seeing this in this way?” or “I wonder what is behind their point of view?”. I find this to be much more interesting, but unfortunately not always my default move because it takes more work and practice.
The biggest challenged associated with having this kind of conversation is that the certainty that comes with being attached to a certain view feels safer than opening up to the possibility that perhaps it isn’t “the way things are”.