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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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everyone Has a Story

Everyone Has a Story

In this blog entry Kelley Haynes of South Africa writes:
A few months ago, I attended a seminar on Narrative Therapy. Michael White and David Epston are the "creators" of Narrative Therapy. Michael White was the presenter of the seminar I attended. . . . During the conference he spoke of 'narratives' or the stories of our lives that we tell to ourselves and others. He says that everyone has a story, and that every story is exceptional.

She ends with the question: "What would it be like to walk through the world seeing people in the exceptionality of their stories?"

This is an amazingly perceptive question. Think about yourself. What assumptions might people who observe you casually on the street make about you? They'd probably draw certain conclusions on the basis of your clothes, your hairstyle, your body type and body language, the expression on your face, whether you were alone or with other people, whether you were clean or dirty and smelly, whether you were talking (to someone or to no one evident) or were silent. How accurate would those assumptions be? Might people alter those assumptions if they knew the exceptionality of your life story?

It's all a matter of perspective. Knowing someone's life story gives us a different perspective on that person than we might get from quick observations. Traditional Native American wisdom puts it this way: Don't judge people without first walking a mile in their moccasins.



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