Understanding how our own views are biased and distorted can help us improve our relationships to others.
As I’ve gotten more involved in the anti-bullying community, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and groups. One group is EyePat out of England. They focus on online or cyberbullying issues.
They sent me a link to their pdf understanding the bully - http://www.eyepat.org/login/uploaded/Understanding%20the%20Bully%20by%20EyePAT.pdf
I was really impressed with it. It is seriously one of the most excellent things I have read in ages. And I’m reading Eleanor Roosevelt right now so that is saying something.
What I want to talk about here isn’t bullying though. I want to talk about how this information about bullies can actually help you with all your relationships. You see, they aren’t just talking about how bullies think. They are talking about how we all think.
Here is the problem. We all have more information coming in through our senses than we can use. This information is filtered and anything not useful is basically deleted. We then might distort the remaining facts to fit our understanding of the world and our emotional state and beliefs and other things and what is left is our understanding of reality. Which when you realize how far removed what we think we experience is from what we actually experience, you begin to understand why and how conflicts arise between people.
The distortion and generalization effects are why I keep telling people that when someone behaves poorly – it’s not about you. It’s about them and their experiences and their perceptions and their distortions. While you can’t do anything about how the other person distorts and reacts, you can do something about how you respond to what you think you are experiencing. Your responsibility is to overcome your own distortions so that you can better choose your actions.
Anyway – as Humanists, part of our mission is to better understand our basic limitations so that we can more effectively work around them and not be limited by them. This is one of those things that it is helpful to understand. It turns out, just realizing that you distort reality to fit your reality filters helps provide just enough distance to think more clearly. I also really liked their graphics.