We all like to think that we have an objective view of the world around us and that our perception is largely undistorted by emotion or personal bias. Oh sure, we recognize that most people’s view of reality is heavily influenced by their personal subjective interpretations, but for some reason we tend to feel confident in our own objectivity.
Why in the world would we think such a thing? Because, even though every one of us is viewing life through our own unique set of emotional filters, we all seem to have one special filter in common. It’s the one that filters out our personal subjectivity and leaves us with the illusion that we are the sole keeper of true objectivity.
Seeing the world through our paradigms
The American Heritage Dictionary defines paradigm as: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality. So, paradigms are the building blocks of our perception and they change the way we see everything.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen Covey adds the following synonyms for paradigm; model, theory, perception, assumption and frame of reference. He points out that paradigms affect the way we see the world in terms of perceiving, understanding and interpreting. What does that mean? Simply put, it means that…
There is no true objectivity
Because we are all influenced by our own unique paradigms, every bit of input we receive is subject to personal interpretation. Thinking that our point of view is objective does not make it so because true objectivity is next to impossible. So, without any conscious awareness of the process, everything we see, hear and experience is automatically altered according to our individual frame of reference.
Essentially, it boils down to our personal version of the truth. Try as we will to be objective, our personal understanding of the world around us is at best subjective objectivity. (How’s that for an oxymoron?)
We are all individuals with different life experiences, different associations and different perceptions, and these all influence our personal viewpoint. That is why two people can see or hear the exact same thing and be left with entirely different impressions of what they saw or heard
Creating your very own reality
Instead of trying to prove ourselves objective, what if we embraced the idea that we can, and do, alter our concept of reality to fit our personal paradigms. In other words, to a large degree we all have the ability to customize reality. Why not cultivate this ability so we can exercise even greater control over our perception. Think of the possibilities!
We can choose to focus on the positive side of life which will decrease our exposure to the negative. We can choose to see the good in others instead of putting a magnifying glass on their faults. We can give up on the idea that we are right and someone else is wrong just because they have a different set of filters. In short, we can basically create a better reality for ourselves.
Expanding our paradigm perspectives beyond self
Our quality of life has a lot to do with how well we get along and interact with other people. Developing our relationship skills requires that we make an effort to understand why other people see things differently than we do.
Appreciating their paradigms, even though they might be different from our own, is a giant step toward understanding who they are as a person and why they view life as they do. Taken one step further, this approach can also help us to expand our perception and appreciation of the world around us.
What’s your paradigm with reference to this post?
Does the idea that you’re not capable of objectivity bother you?
The lines are open!
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