July 10th, 2011

Perspective

“He wants to be the boss!”, “She doesn’t like me”, “He is lazy!”, “She is stupid!”. In my work as a behavior therapist for animals I hear statements like this all the time. They are used by exasperated owners to explain the problems they are having with their companion animals. These statements are, of course, completely from the owner’s perspective and highly interpretative. They do not explain what the animal is going through. They do tell me a lot, however, about how the owner perceives the problem.

The only way one can ever achieve behavioral change in an animal is to change the owner’s behavior. To do so, I need to change his perspective. An owner who no longer believes that the animal wants to be the boss and instead understands that the animal is afraid, will change his behavior towards the animal completely. Compassion replaces anger. Love replaces fear.

Many of our interactions with our fellow humans are based on exactly the same mechanism. We think somebody is rude who is merely absentminded. We think someone is arrogant who is only just as shy as we are. We think someone is shallow, just because he cannot bear to show his pain.

This week I would like you to try to see the human being each with its own burdens behind the behaviors that annoy you. To do so, pay attention to the assumptions you make about others. Catch yourself when you make an interpretation of the reason for someone else’s behavior. Then consciously exchange that assumption for several other ones. Try each of your new assumptions on. Feel them out. How is your reaction to the person different based on the assumption you are testing?

Perhaps you will be able to be kinder to others by learning to look beyond your own interpretations. When you do, the universe will repay you handsomely.

Here is a video I enjoyed watching that illustrates this concept beautifully.

I would love to hear back from you how this exercise worked for you.

Love & light,

Anna.

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