In the Eye of the Observer
The Eye of the Beholder:
Throughout much of my life experience, I have often wondered how judgments effect our self image and self esteem. As a child I still remember the criticism that was bestowed on me by my mother. Amazingly, I survived these hurtful remarks and yet it sometimes crops up in my life when someone points a finger at me and makes a critical remark. How the negativity seems to cling to some part of me and not let go. They are like penetrating daggers in the form of thoughts that enter my consciousness when I am not looking and take hold. As self-doubt rises to the surface, I begin to feel not good enough, and generally yukky.
How can these thoughts have such power and how can I protect myself from them? I let them in where I feel the most vulnerable. The critical parent inside of me leaps out a shows her ugly head and I run hiding, desperately trying to sustain my own sense of self-worth and value. If I allow the process to continue, my rebel child comes on the scene and takes over by defying the authority. Yet I know this is not the answer. This reactionary position only perpetuates escalates the drama.
I heard a story once about a young boy who was so happy with his mother that he thought about her all day when he was at school. She was so much on his mind that he drew a beautiful heart reminding him of how much he loved and cherished her. He was so excited to go home so that he could show it to her. Upon arriving home, he ran from the car with such excitement he could not contain his elation. As he ran to the door he stepped through a puddle of water and splashed water and mud all over himself. When his mother greeted him at the door all she could see was the mud and water on his clothing was horrified. The boy never got to show his mother the heart he had made for her, he had lost that excited feeling of overwhelming love. He still loved his mother but he no longer felt safe to express it to her. He also felt that it was no use, and he was not good enough anyway.
From my observation of the process, I have concluded that we see what we believe not what we really look at. I think we are conditioned to edit what we observe according to our beliefs. Think about it! If whatever I observe in my experience is based on what I believe, then it might be useful to observe my beliefs and access my motivation for such beliefs. For example: If I am feeling inferior to someone and hold the belief that they are better than I, I might try to find something not so good about them so that I can relieve my feelings of inadequacy and doubt. Or, this is also true, if I hold another in such high esteem that I only see the good in them, I am also supporting my belief of not feeling good enough and playing it out by observing only the good in the other. I am not suggesting that one should go around praising or humiliating others to support my belief of inadequacy. I am pointing out that we tend to edit our observations to support our beliefs. The key for me is to notice what I notice and then ask myself what belief that observation supports. Then to ask myself what else do I notice and how can I see this differently? It is so amazing what doors open when I perform this simple exercise. What could be different, when I observe it differently? When I do this exercise, a vista of possibilities becomes open to me and I am not restricted by my first observation at all. It also relieves my anxiety by giving me the peace of mind that comes with knowing I have more than one choice to consider. Beliefs are very powerful and they are always changing. We once believed the world was flat and collected evidence to support that belief until someone came along and noticed something different and asked the questions that gave us a new point of view.
Observing with an Unbiased Eye
The challenge for me is to develop my ability to see with and unbiased eye. Children do this naturally. They see the world through eyes of wonder. Each moment is a new discovery. They have not yet established perimeters that define their experience. How often I have heard,"Become as little children" or " A child will lead them".
Point of view is so important to any true communication of justice and equality. How can we be united with each other if all we do is go around pointing fingers. This type of observation causes separation and that leads to disharmony and discord. Opening our mind and hearts to include many possible goods in others allows us to expand our limitations to include differences and embrace new experience of others. It helps us to move from a defensive stance in communication to an eclectic one. Opinions are only opinions, they are not God's law written in stone. I believe the more we view others as another one of ourselves the closer we come to living a life of grace and compassion.
I don't think it is naive to imagine a world of harmony. Some of our collective beliefs have been detrimental to bringing about world peace. We seem overly per-occupied with defending a position rather than observing the connections that bring us together.
This is also applies to the way we observe illnesses in our cultural climate. It seems that when we have a symptom of something off balance in our bodies we automatically assume, it has to have a diagnosis.We have diagnosis's for everything from metal, emotional, and physical ailments. We assume an ailment before we even explore the possible causes. Not only that we also have come up with a million different medications to treat these so called dis-eases. Can you just imagine that we made it all up and we can change it just as easily by making up something else?
My question, why? My answer, why not?
If my head hurts today and I define my headache as a this or a that illness. I have limited myself and defined my little old headache in such a way that I now am a person suffering from a chronic illness. And I would be bound to take this or that medication to cure my chronic headache.. If I set my belief that I have chronic headaches, then for sure that is going to become my reality. I would be becoming a headache to myself for sure.
If we are always looking for the black spot on the white wall, we miss the whole picture. Unbiased observation frees us from our limited beliefs and opens our eyes to an expansive vision and limitless possibilities.
"Think left and think right. Think low and think high. Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try." quote from Dr Suess - Oh,The Thinks You Can Think
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