Real Life and Point of View

Point of ViewBecause I’m a writer, I think a lot about point of view in the literature sense, but I also think it’s germane to real life.

I thought about that concept this week after seeing this meme on Facebook (I don’t know who did it or I’d give them credit)

This is an excellent example of point of view.

The actual definition is: “The perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information.”

We live with our pets and often taken them for granted. They’ve got a limited life span, however, and we usually outlive them.

(Someone said once we’re given pets so we understand life is not finite and it teaches us how to grieve. We learned that a year ago when our beloved Gordon Setter Suzie died. You can read how wonderful she was here.)

This meme turns our understanding around when we look at a dog’s life through the dog’s eyes–his time with us is his entire life.

The same is true with children. They have a limited perspective. They think mothers are supposed to be like their mother–whether their mother is a good mother or not.

A Lamaze teacher liberated me from unrealistic expectations when she said, “You’re the child’s parent. Raise them the way you want to. If you don’t feel like giving them a bath every night, don’t bother. The child will never know they’re ‘supposed’ to get a bath every night.”

Wow. What a concept. I determined  what “reality” was for my family.

Understanding a different person’s point of view (one of the reasons for reading literature), also enables us to develop compassion and empathy–and those are important elements to getting along with others and being successful in real life.

Back in the dark ages when I trained to be a reporter, I learned that all of us have biases. Our point of view determines how we think and look at events.

Point of view: Gordon Setter from 1915

But a good reporter needed to “turn the prism,” on their personal point of view to grasp both sides of a story. I was taught you did not have to agree with both sides of a story (how could you?), but you needed to be able to respectfully articulate both sides in order to present a reasonable newspaper story.

The goal was to be as impartial as possible in telling the story so the reader could reach their own conclusions (which, of course, would be slanted by their personal point of view).

I’ve taken that training into my real life and I often find myself looking for the alternate responses to events or reactions. It’s helped me in my writing (where you have to stay in  one point of view in each scene so as to not confuse the reader)  and in raising my children. If I didn’t understand why they behaved a certain way, I’d stop and try to envision the circumstances from their limited-life-experience point of view.

It was very helpful, even if I didn’t change my mind.

Recognizing different points of view helps in political settings, in social circumstances, in my marriage. (Author Larry Burkett famously said, “opposites usually attract in marriage and that’s a good thing. If you both thought and acted the same, one of you would be superfluous.”)

It’s smoothed the way when I realize a challenging individual may not be vexing on purpose, they just might be operating from a skewed point of view.

What tricks do you use to understand someone else’s point of view?


How to see beyond your biasesClick to Tweet

How your point of view reflects real life. Click to Tweet

If you both thought the same, one of you would be superfluous. Click to Tweet

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