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  • Sharon Borland

#60 - What Do You See?

How can we see if we don’t look?

Are you seeing what you believe, or believing what you see? How would you know? Context shapes so much of our lives yet is so often unexamined. The context or background against which we view and experience the world is a major contributor to informing and shaping who we are and how we behave. Context directly impacts the decisions we make and the outcome or results that we get. So, being curious about what we don’t see seems critical if we are to make sense of what we do see. But how can we see what we don’t yet see? This might not make much sense until we begin to get curious about what’s in the background and begin to explore and examine what we find.

In the absence of an exploration to uncover and examine what we don’t yet see, we might benefit from considering that our internal ‘machinery’ is likely to take us to the same places time after time. These places might be emotional, mental, physical or spiritual, but whatever they are, if left unattended or in the absence of curiosity, we’re likely to confirm to ourselves what we think we already know. Over time, the ‘machinery’ becomes increasingly difficult to intervene with. Relationships get stuck, ‘difficult people’ seem to keep getting in our way, and the experience of being purposeful and meaningful can seem like a distant aspiration.

If we walked through a busy shopping centre with the intention of spotting people wearing a particular colour of trainers, we’re likely to see what we’re looking for and perhaps confirm what we already believed – that a significant number of people would be wearing trainers of a particular colour. If there’s something you dislike about a colleague’s behaviour at work, it’s likely that you’ll see what you already believed about that person. In the process, it’s likely that you’ll miss many other things about this person that you’ve never taken the time to find out.  You don’t see because you don’t believe there’s something good or worthwhile to look for.

Try replacing ‘seeing is believing’ with ‘seeing is confirming’ – what I thought I already knew. Then try replacing ‘believing is seeing’ with ‘believing is seeing through a set of filters and lenses’. Like a pair of sunglasses, the lenses allow us to see some things and block out others. If you’re curious and interested in getting unstuck in parts of your life, you can choose to begin exploring and examining the lenses and filters through which you see and engage with the world. Alternatively, if you don’t explore and examine, you’re likely to find that not much changes in your thinking, and with it, your impact on the world.


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