When do people see the world differently? Imagine for a moment that you are about to cross an intersection when an automobile accident happens right in front of you. It’s a clear afternoon and you notice that three other people also witnessed the accident. When the police arrive on the scene you give your eyewitness account of the accident. The officer reviews a few details with you to make sure he has an accurate account and then tallies your account with another person’s account he received just before yours.
When Do People See The World Differently?
After the officer talks to you, he moves on to interview the remaining witnesses. You overhear their accounts of what happened and notice that their accounts are slightly different from your own.
But you all saw the same accident. Shouldn’t everyone’s account be exactly the same? Why does each person’s story vary?
Even if two or more people all witnessed the same event at the same time, their accounts will always be slightly different.
The difference in the eyewitness accounts lies in each person’s mental filters.
Every person’s mental filters affect both parts of their brains – the conscious and the subconscious. Those filters also unconsciously designate what information they will focus on in certain situations.
Mental filters are always evolving and changing.
Keep in mind though that these mental filters are determined by our values and belief systems. Because these are already established at a subconscious level, it’s tough to change your perspective on something even if you wanted to.
You can project your mental filter onto reality
When we project our mental filter onto the world around us, we view things in a specific way. When those mental filters are negative and we project them onto situations or people, it results in us viewing the world in an undesirable light.
Think of a person working in an office and this person is convinced that his fellow colleagues want to see him fired or moved to another department. As a result of this misconception, he will end up misreading or misinterpreting every single statement or gesture that his colleagues make. He’ll begin to isolate himself from the rest of the group or even lash out when he receives any feedback on his work.
His colleagues could end up viewing his behavior as aggressive, antisocial, and uncooperative, and they’ll likely change the way they treat him. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The office worker views his situation as negative. So his interactions with colleagues become negative and in turn, their treatment of him ends up being negative. His misconception became his reality.
Exploring the concept of mental frames
A metal frame is a filter we use to hone in on certain facets of reality. When a person is focusing in on something, it is said that he is giving whatever his area of focus is, “a frame.”
Activity: Watching TV
Frame: Enjoyment – very relaxed and happy
Activity: Fixing a car’s transmission.
Frame: Problem – negative and focuses on other people’s contribution to the problem
These are simple examples of mental frames we use on an everyday basis. Frames, such as the problem frame (car repair), can hinder your ability to solve the problem or be satisfied with different activities. These negative frames often happen at the least opportune times and if you don’t know they are happening, it can be difficult to step out of them.
The problem frame defined
Probably the most frequently occurring negative frame in everyday situations is the problem frame. One would think that the presence of the problem frame would accelerate finding a resolution to the problem because it shines a light on the elements of a situation that caused the initial setback.
Yet instead of motivating people to move forward and take a positive approach to solve their present problem, the problem frame discourages a positive response and instead prompt people to begin playing the “blame game.” Of course, a positive resolution to the problem is stifled in this kind of environment.
In order to avoid this, make a conscious attempt to step out of the problem frame and instead take on a positive, productive mental frame. Having trouble recognizing when you’re stuck in a problem frame?
Asking these questions will give you some insight:
How long has the problem been here?
Who is the person responsible for this? Who can I blame for this problem?
Is the person responsible for helping to solve this problem?
What’s actually causing the problem?
Why is the problem still here after all this time?
Why hasn’t anything been done to solve it?
Why did this happen in the first place?
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If you find yourself asking these questions, chances are you are focusing too much on the negative aspects of your situation. You are moving into a place where focusing on the negative will hinder finding a resolution to the problem. You’re focused too much on who caused the problem and you are not actively seeking ways to solve the problem.