I’ve spent most of my life trying to understand the world and people by attempting to see things from other peoples’ perspectives. I once wrote a historical crime novel based on a true story (An Uncertain Justice) and was able to solve a 1920’s mystery by locating multiple accounts of the crime. The key was assuming everyone’s testimony was true… at least as they saw it. By constructing a composite story, I was actually able to solve the mystery.
As much as I try to see other perspectives, I have become increasingly aware that I filter the world through my own lens of beliefs, ideas, past experiences, over-generalizations, and extrapolations.
As I’ve been working to improve my open communication skills, I’ve found that much of what I assume about others is completely false. Even though I am empathic to some extent, I am a pathetic mind reader. I am left to wonder how much of the messy situations and broken relationships in my life could have been averted had I assumed less and communicated more.
Of course, it takes two people who are willing to communicate. But at least I could have asked questions instead of assuming I knew someone’s mind and intentions based on observation.
It’s a rather painful realization, but hopefully one that will make me a better person in the long run.
Featured Image Copyright: Marnie L. Pehrson