You’ve heard of gaslighting–someone telling you that what you see is not what is happening. Gaslighting involves someone deliberately deceiving someone else.
But often, the things you see are based on your experiences and preferences, and open to opinion. What you think may not be what is happening. It may be your perspective on what is happening. Optical illusions are an example.
You may have seen the one on the left recently. It was published in the Express.co.uk website and ripped around the internet. You probably see the torso of a naked woman first. Or, you may see two stick figures, dancing. OK, so their heads are small, but the dancing figures are easy to see.
(Warning to trainers: look closely at your own stick figure drawings before putting them in your slide presentation!)
How you see things, and knowing that other people may not see things the same way is an example of perspective. It can happen verbally, too. But this post is about visual perspective.
When I first saw this video, I assumed I as looking at some living thing, being cut open for a restaurant. Probably because I had just watched a cooking show, possibly because my husband is a chef, and food is important to us. I was disgusted. It was still moving, while the owner sawed away at it. It was creepy. And the noise of whatever legs it had, scrabbling in terror to get away. Ewwww.
Unlike this video, there was no clue what this was. Then the voiceover said, “cutting a rubber band ball in half.” (This voice over did not happen in Jordan Wilson’s You Tube video, above.)
The instant my brain flipped the switch from “undersea living creature” to “inanimate rubber band ball,” my brain dropped the revulsion. It was not disgusting, it was weird and interesting and funny. The rubber bands, cut, were retracting and making a scrabbling noise, but now I could recognize the sound as a rubber band sound.
My perspective changed instantly from revolt to delight. What had been creepy torture to an animate object was now a funny video on something inanimate. It did not involve torture, disgusting behavior, or any other judgment I might have made about it. The hinge, for me, was that inanimate objects hold a different space in my head (and heart) than animate objects. I could shift emotions because my reality shifted.
Perspective is an important part in communication. What you are thinking is not necessarily what the other person is thinking. The old saw, “Perception is reality” is a lot clearer if you say, “MY perception is MY reality.” That understanding makes most conversations a lot easier.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing and communication skills. She is also a creativity coach who helps people wake up and use their own creative skills.