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That’s not what I see

By Sue Ellen Haning
Columnist

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” — Jonathan Swift, 18th Century Irish-born author.

Have all of you who are on successful nut journeys been keeping company with authenticity lately?

Don’t you love the you that has been tucked away for years and that you have recently released? My guess is those around you may be quite uncomfortable with the changes you have made if you’ve tossed away your masks.

Possibly, the reason for their discomfort is they are seeing you differently than you are seeing yourself. The biggest “if” on the planet concerns perspective or the way we “see” things. If we could all observe from the same perspective, life would be radical, to put it mildly. Can you imagine a world with no communication differences, where we all look at a situation and interpret it the same? What shall we call this new place? Cloud 9? Harmonia?

Recently I read about the concept of sight. Scientific studies tell us we see with our minds, not our eyes. Could this be where the “mind’s eye” comes from? The following is taken from the book, “How We Know: An Exploration of the Scientific Process,” by Martin and Inge Goldstein concerning the outcome of surgery performed on people who were born blind due to cataracts. After the surgery, these people saw only swirling lights and colors. They could not pick out objects. They all had to undergo a lengthy training to be able to ‘see’ things. I quote from the book, “It is apparent that (sight), the sense we think of as most directly putting us in touch with facts is learned rather than automatic. We see with our minds, not with our eyes, and we are subject to whatever unconscious biases and misconceptions are produced by the training that teaches us to see … things need not be what they seem … changes in our own thinking may change what we see.”

My favorite part, “things need not be what they seem” is enormously appealing, and I wish to ascribe it immediately to certain situations in my life.

When I look at something, I see it through my eyes. My beliefs, experiences, cultural and familial influences make up my eyes. So, does this mean what I just saw isn’t real? Maybe if I change my rose-colored glasses for some with green or blue lenses, the situation would appear totally different. Even with the different lenses, am I seeing truth? Could it be there are no problems on earth, only unruly perspectives? I used to think there were two sides to every story, but now I think there are three, my side, your side and the truth, which we evidently do not see due to our perspectives.

How do you perceive yourself? Do you see yourself as happy, healthy, confident, intelligent, a problem solver? Does your perception of yourself include material possessions? How do your children, your peers, your co-workers, your pets, your siblings perceive you? Have you ever asked them? Asking any one of these groups how they “see” you could open some eyes or at least begin a titillating conversation.

What does this have to do with getting outside your comfort zone you may ask. If our perceptions filter everything, and these perceptions are learned … so are our fears, doubts and sight. OMG, we’ve been socially programmed! So, all those fears I harbored for years someone taught me? Tell me it’s not so. I was afraid because I thought I should be? Can it be as simple as changing our thoughts? No, that’s too easy. It has to be more difficult than that. If this is true, and if we have some 60,000 thoughts whizzing through our heads every day, as scientists say, we can focus on one of those that is different from our usual daily focus and, voila, change takes place. Wow, it’s bloomin’ magic!

In my last column, I mentioned spending three weeks in Murren, Switzerland, on a whim. I remember when I decided to stay in Switzerland, alone, my last thought when I walked into the hotel to ask for a job was, “I can do this.” I changed my thought for a moment from, “I can’t stay in a foreign country by myself,” to, “I can do this.” I was not convinced by my words, and I did not know if I could do this or not, given it was a huge stretch outside my comfort zone, but I did change my thought. When I walked up to the desk to ask for work in trade for a room, just so I could spend more time in that blissful place, the woman behind the desk acted like she had been expecting me all day. She picked up the phone and called her husband who ran a restaurant on the mountaintop. I washed dishes four hours a day in that mountaintop restaurant (as I gazed out the window at the Alps) in trade for one meal a day and a hotel room. This went on for three weeks. It was a nutty thing to do at 56 years old. It was also the moment that I knew my life would never be the same.

This week, try seeing something, anything, from a different perspective. To do this you might:

1. Stand on your head to get a different look at something.

2. Read an article written from the opposite viewpoint of yours. Read with the intent to understand a different opinion. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, just sincerely make the attempt to understand the opposing perspective.

3. Spend five minutes writing a list of what you are grateful for. (This will change your perspective instantly.)

4. Change one thing in your routine.

5. Try to “see” how your child “sees” that his/her room is clean.

6. Don’t talk for a day. Listen instead.

You are creative and quite able to think of ways to “see” things differently. Go for it. Heck, we’re all nuts here … no worries.

Golfing Outside Your Comfort Zone is coming up next time. Until then, I leave you with a Roman influence.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” — Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161-180 A.D.

sueellen.haning@gmail.com

This story was posted on May 16, 2013.