Change of Perspective

Musings on Writing, Reading, and Life Narratives

Fiction writers and literary critics speak of point of view. Social scientists are more likely to discuss perspective. But both of these terms refer to essentially the same construct: the consciousness behind the perception and narration of experience. Each individual’s point of view is unique, and point of view shapes the stories people tell to themselves and to others about themselves and their relationships with their environment. The same event narrated from two different perspectives will produce two different stories.

A change of perspective can expand our perception and reframe our thinking about our experiences. We can all benefit from an occasional change of perspective.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Quotation of the Day

book cover
In a list of significant things he learned from his therapy clients, Carl Rogers includes the following:

"I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand another person. . . . Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of his statement is to him. I believe this is because understanding is risky. If I let myself really understand another person, I might be changed by that understanding. And we all fear change. So as I say, it is not an easy thing to permit oneself to understand an individual, to enter thoroughly and completely and empathically into his frame of reference. It is also a rare thing."

Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person (p. 18)

In other words, a change of perspective can lead to understanding, and understanding can lead to personal growth. Yet understanding can be risky: If I come to understand people whose beliefs are different from mine, I might have to change the way I think about those people. And that knowledge might change the way I think about myself.

So I have to decide: Am I willing to take that risk?

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