By Dr. Andra Brosh
I like to take pictures with my very fancy camera. I love shooting photos because it’s one of the few places in my life where only my perspective matters.
When I’m taking pictures I lose all self-consciousness about how I see things, and can completely immerse myself in what I believe to be true and perfect. It’s my photo, my angle, and most importantly my point of view.
You may not know it, but your perspective of the world is extremely valuable. How you see things is just as important as how you feel. An even more important concept, however, is that your ability to share a different perspective from your own is one of the most valuable qualities you can have. Taking it even one step further, your ability to see things from another person’s perspective is an essential skill in maintaining a healthy relationship.
As human beings we have a very deep and basic need to be seen, and to have our experience and perceptions validated. When we are told that our point of view is “wrong” a little part of us dies inside, and we begin to question what we believe to be true in the world.
When you and your partner share an experience with each other that is perceived through each of your unique vantage points, neither of you are right. Denying another person’s perceptions, or questioning the validity of their perspective leaves them feeling misunderstood, insecure, frustrated, and angry.
Perspective is very closely aligned with empathy, but they are different. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s situation with the intention of understanding how they feel. Sharing a perspective requires you to stand behind the other person, to look out at the world through their eyes, and to see what they are seeing.
It’s like looking through their camera once they set up the shot.
Sharing a perspective does not equate with agreeing, and it doesn’t mean your perspective has to be eliminated. It’s simply an opportunity to step back from what you believe to be true, so you can see something different. Accepting and acknowledging these ideas about perception will shift how you relate in the world, and it will also build an incredible sense of intimacy in your present relationship.
Here are three tips to share another person’s perspective:
- It’s all in the language. Avoid saying things like “That’s not true” or “Don’t be ridiculous” when your partner shares their experience. Try saying something like “I can see how you might see it that way, but…” or “I’m having a hard time seeing it the way you do, can you help me understand?”
- Remember that there is no right or wrong way to see things. Your experiences and perceptions of things are subjective. You get to have your view, and your partner gets to have theirs. If you feel the need to be right, your next step is to work on letting go of this unrealistic expectation so you can be more open.
- Use empathy and compassion to get there. When we are in a heated situation or feel strongly about something we often lose sight of the other person’s perspective. Using your imagination, and seeing that your partner is feeling just like you will allow you to step back, and be more objective.
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Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.