On switching perspective

🙋🏼‍♀️ Dearest you,

Being able to switch perspectives is often regarded as a valuable skill.

However, just being capable of switching from perspective is like knowing how to handle a knife. It's great if you know how to cut, but if you're going to do it without a clear purpose and goal, you are likely to only make things worse.

More often than not there is a multitude of standpoints to pick from. You can look both zoomed in and zoomed out at a situation. You can choose your own perspective, or that of the person you are interacting with. Do you see something abstractly or concrete? Indivdualistically or generalized?

This fall unfortunately my grandfather passed away. For me personally, it's helpful within the grieving process to zoom out and pick a more generalistic perspective. Thoughts like 'all people die eventually' and 'we all experience grief and loss in our life' are healing for me. For others, this perspective can be extremely hurtful, however. They are better off with a perspective that is very much zoomed in to their own experience.

The important thing is that you learn which perspective is helpful when.

In the past years, I have invested a lot of time in getting to know different perspectives. I figured the world I grew up in probably wasn't representative of the real world and I chose the world as my university. My first approach was to just collect as many standpoints as possible.

Later I learned that just being able to switch perspective is not enough. We need as many people as possible who can empathize with the perspective of their fellow humans. However, we also need people that can reflect on their own behavior and take a stand when necessary, thus the perspective of the other is not always helpful.

Knowing which perspective you are drawn to most often is paramount. Just as knowing which are more difficult or at least less natural for you is.

A great misunderstanding of our time is the idea that our minds are machines that operate perfectly well without our intervention. They don't.

Our brains are optimized for surviving, not for thinking well.

Thinking well, and thus effectively choosing perspectives is something we have to teach ourselves. Hooray for metacognition!

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