Illusion blog pictureI recently took a picture of an outdoor scene and as I looked at it in my phone gallery, I noticed that it did not look “real”; it looked like an optical illusion with no fancy editing on my part. Then I saw a share on LinkedIn regarding the “Iceberg Illusion” which highlighted that when we see a person’s success, we only see a fraction of what goes into their achievement. Both experiences underscore that what we see as real, may in fact be only part of the truth or could be an illusion.

The concept of Illusion has had a resurgence with the topics of fake news and alternative facts. Here is another type of illusion. I was speaking to someone the other day about a project and shared the feeling that some of the puzzle pieces were not yet in place. The response I got back (partly kidding) was about my being OCD; yet someone else had told me that I thought in puzzles. Which is accurate?

Labeling others seems to be one of the more common “skills” around, yet labels are based on perception. As I went through coach training, I learned that it is not my place to label what another person is experiencing. It is my responsibility to make objective observations, identify patterns, and ask questions that can create a shift. I can hear someone’s voice get louder, but I cannot accurately label that as they are angry or resistant or belligerent.

How many times have we heard ourselves or others label people or experiences? What makes us think our label of an experience or someone else’s experience is accurate? Think of the young woman/old woman optical illusion picture or others like it, and you see we label based on how and what we see.

In the world at large, it is my observation that people love to label and judge. While there are studies looking at what underscore that, my experience is that labeling:

  • Puts your meaning on something, yet as we see with the interpretation of media events, there are many different meanings for the same event.
  • Judges another person, and for the receiver, can perpetuate feelings of not good enough, driving a compulsive need to do better than someone else, and causing the internal gremlins to go into questioning mode.
  • Convinces you that you know something that in reality you do not – another person’s reality.

We can parse another person’s language for the types of words they use, watch how they sit, make eye contact, or notice a reaction, but do any of us have the ability to know how someone is receiving an experience?

Do you find yourself labeling or judging the experiences of another person? Do you feel that you have developed psychic abilities and somehow know what someone else is thinking? Are you negatively influenced by how another person responds to you? If you find yourself judging others, being a mind reader or know it all, or taking another person’s perspective personally, it might be time for some transformational work offered by Systems of Change –

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