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The Problem With "Seeing Is Believing"

One of the biggest mistakes others have made is believing they had me figured out based on what they perceived about me on the surface. One of my biggest mistakes has been allowing their belief to influence how I felt about myself.

"Seeing is believing." We are trained to believe in what is apparent on the surface of a given situation or person. The clever may be adept at comprehending patterns of behavior, but often fall into their own trap of drawing conclusions all too quickly based on what they believe the pattern reveals about the deeper or broader context. “The truth”.

You see, once someone has decided they have decoded “the truth”, whatever train of sleuthing, of questioning, of discovery tends to abruptly stop right there. Like a period following a statement. Climax after arousal. I finished, something moans. Rolls over, goes to sleep. It is what it is. Isn’t it? (Is it?)

Once that happens, this conclusion becomes hard to alter. Perhaps this is partly because we are largely taught that truth is absolute. Another reason may be because there is a need for closure lest we drive ourselves insane without having some kind of answer to explain away—and thereby ease the discomfort of—the previously unexplainable. Yet we run into problems when there are conflicting absolute truths. This gives birth to opponents. And much wasted time.

Stop trying to justify yourself. One of my favorite lines. One which lets me know we will likely not get much further in understanding, for one party already believes they have fully understood. However that itself is a conclusion which has also been disproven in my experiences.

The key, I have found, is to be unrelenting in getting the other person to realize you genuinely care to understand where they are coming from and to be understood in return more than you care about being right. This requires belief that conflicts (sometimes entirely) with what you see in the other person. Often this is belief in their capacity for intelligence, empathy, and desire to understand beyond their own perspective.

Note: you must actually genuinely care. I do not do games.

I cannot guarantee anything but I would be willing to bet most people, even if they do not know how to give empathy or understanding, like to be empathized with and understood. I have faith in this. Some might not even know they need it more than anything. Like water. Or air. And they have never really gotten it. Of course they are going to be abrasive and closed off to other perspectives. No one has ever attempted to soften them. At least not without trying to weaken them for their own personal gain. To get in their head. To get something out of them. To form a judgment or conclusion of their own. Few ever truly listen just for the purpose of understanding. Of being a vessel. Many might even take offense to this.

When you think about it, the “seeing is believing” programming is quite weak from an evolutionary standpoint. The most dangerous predators operate in disguise. We see what they want us to see. If we believe too much in what we see, we are quite easy prey to what has been kept hidden.

So how can we trust anyone? Perhaps by letting our guards and disguises down and revealing our truth. First to ourselves. And then, to whoever we feel is worthy of it.

However it is that we may come to that conclusion in and for ourselves.


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