Saturday, January 31, 2015

Point of view

The other day, I got a chance to watch somebody do something that I didn't have the courage to do: talk to a complete stranger who (by all reports) could have become angry and violent given the subject matter of the conversation. 

I was supposed to have talked to the man... but basically, well-ll-lllll .... I chickened out. This person I was watching had offered to talk to him for me - and had asked me if I wanted to watch and see "how it was done." I jumped at the chance.

Every fear I had nursed about this conversation never materialized. The man was polite, courteous, and even understanding. That was amazing enough in itself. However, what was even more amazing for me was how my friend approached the conversation.

Instead of fear and trepidation, there was confidence, friendliness, and humor. 

I thought a lot about how the conversation went with my friend in charge, and how it might have gone with me at the helm. I didn't like what I saw... but I did start to understand what the difference was. It was "point of view."

Later, after the conversation was over, I told my friend about my epiphany, my inner realization about the point of view determining the course of a conversation, a social interaction, a task. 

You see, my friend actually expected things to go well. There was an inner confidence, a belief that most people would be nice and that there was no need to worry. (I don't have that.) There was also the fact that my friend stayed "in the moment" and didn't play the "what if" game. (I do that all the time!) 

Point of view, or perspective, or mind-set, determines a great deal of things in life. It can cause us to be adventurous or reticent, thoughtless or thoughtful, confident or fearful, trusting or suspicious, and everything in between. My friend was always told that she could do anything that she set her mind to, that the world was a wonderful place, that her own opinion of herself was the only one that mattered, and that people could be incredibly sweet. I was told that I was a screw-up, that the world had it in for me, that the most important thing in the world was what people thought about you, and that my feelings and thoughts didn't matter at all. 

Photo "Serpentine Pathway Stones On A Park Walkway"
(concept) by arturo at
We came at this conversation - and I came to realize that we come at life - from two completely different points of view, based on our own experiences in our growing-up years. Suddenly, in the presence of my friend (after the conversation was over and I realized that all went well) I remembered someone saying once that we create what we believe ... because what we believe determines how we act, and also it determines how others react to us. I have no doubt that if I had talked to that man, he would have become irritated with me because I believed that he would and because I would have therefore been apologetic and hesitant with him, stumbling over my words. And therein lies my problem. 

My problem lies within me. It lies in my own point of view - created early on in my life by people whose own point of view was warped and distorted, and adopted by me because I didn't know any different way to be.

The good part of all this is that through this experience, my problem - which had been "out there" and quite cloudy and hard to grasp - gelled and came into clear focus for me. That is the first step in doing something about it.

Yes, I will make this a matter of prayer - and of focused self-talk using what I know to be true instead of what I have been told by those who don't know any better. But I also know that if I need help or focus doing that self-talk, I can ask for help. I don't need to struggle through it alone.

That's something those people in my early life would never have suggested because, well, "What would people think?" I'm learning not to listen to that tired old song. And now that I know what to ask for, you can bet that I'll be asking for it. 

And I'll get there. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

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