If you were to think about your past 24 hours of awoken time, you would undoubtedly be able to recall a number of instances when another person made you feel frustrated, annoyed, irritated, or even angry. For each one of us, a continuous flow of interactions with those around us often leads to our internal states being negatively affected. A person may cut you off on the highway. A coworker, who you are working on a project with, doesn’t have the same vision as you do. And a waitress may continuously forget to refill your glass of water. In instances such as these, we may shake our heads and internally ask ourselves “What is wrong with this person? Do they not get it?”
While we like to assume that our feelings of frustration and irritation are warranted, the truth is that we all can be difficult to deal with.
In the vast majority of instances, when another causes us to turn sour, we rarely take into account that these people oftentimes feel the same frustration with us. When examining either massive global issues or our own petty grips, it becomes apparent to see that nearly all of the world’s problems stem from our inability to realize a number of important psychological truths. Fortunately, by increasing our understanding of how individuals communicate based on their own unique views of the world, we can shift our perspective in a way that leads to greater understanding and connection with all.
Why Everyone Can Be Difficult to Deal With:
The arguments, irritations, and frustrations that each of us experience, when interacting with others, is the direct result of our natural tendency to see the world from a subjective lens that we come to believe is objectively correct. Throughout our lives, each of us is exposed to different ways of thinking, live with a distinctive set of circumstances, and gain contradicting perspectives about how societies function, and it is from these experiences, which are stored as memories in our mind, that we form our own subjective worldview. Consequently, the reason everyone can be difficult to deal with is that each person we encounter has their own schemas, or ways of thinking about the world, that oftentimes clash with our own.
While it shouldn’t be hard to grasp the fact that each and every person views the world from a different set of subjective glasses, problems arise because we rarely remind ourselves of this truth when interacting with those around us. The driver who cuts you off thinks you are driving too slow, the coworker obviously sees the project differently, and the waitress isn’t enticed to work hard by what she believes is a cheap tip. It is unquestionably because each and every person views the world differently that each and every one of us can be difficult to deal with.
There is Nothing We All Agree On:
It would be unequivocally impossible to find a single topic, schema, or belief that every single individual on earth agreed upon. Even identical twins, who have the exact same genetic makeup, will come to see the world from their own subjective viewpoint. To bring this truth to life, we can look at an example of how one man comes to view a situation differently than 99.9% of the world’s population:
Each summer in the United States there is a TV spectacle of sorts that captures the attention of Americans across the country. In July or August each year, individuals flip their TVs to the Discovery Channel for the annual Shark Week festivities. The yearly series has programming dedicated to helping the general public learn the truth about one of the most feared creatures on the planet, and in a number of the shows, viewers watch on in horror as ‘crazy’ individuals jump into the water unprotected to swim with the ferocious predators.
While the vast majority of the human population would consider this a death sentence, it is just another day at the office for the people working to save the specie. Take Mike “Shark Man” Rutzen for example. Rutzen has free dove with Great White sharks, the most feared of them all, more than any other human being alive. What would be considered to be one of the stupidest things the average Joe could do is something that another man loves. How is this possible? Subjective worldview.
Rutzen grew up fishing off the coasts of South Africa with a ‘logical’ fear of these animals, but as Great White tourism increased in the area, Rutzen’s interest in the magnificent creatures grew. Soon after befriending a famous South African dive guide, Andre Hartman, Rutzen’s found himself studying the species. Ultimately, Rutzen developed his own behavioral techniques for diving with the massive sharks and now is comfortable enough to regularly swim freely with the ocean’s most feared predator.
If there is an individual whose subjective worldview contains the belief that it is ok to dive freely with Great Whites, it should be quite easy to recognize why there are so many arguments and disagreements in the world.
When each of us comes to believe that our views of the world are 100% accurate, but forget to recognize that everyone we encounter has their own subjective viewpoint they similarly believe to be 100% accurate, the potential for conflict swells. What you may consider to be a terrible way to behave can just as easily be considered acceptable from another’s point of view.
Intelligently Communicating to Understand Others:
It should now be clear to see how much of the frustration and irritation that other people cause us is the direct result of individuals, with conflicting subjective viewpoints, crossing each others’ paths. When we don’t consciously remind ourselves of this truth, and act based upon our subjective viewpoint alone, our chances for conflict with strangers and loved ones alike greatly increase. The truth is that while the way we think about the world is what we know as truth, others will consider your schemas and beliefs to be false. The great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius spoke of this reality and told us:
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
In order to rid yourself of the frustrations that come from merely living and interacting with others around you, you’ll have to come to wholly realize how and why we all can be difficult to deal with. The next time you are about to get frustrated or angry with another person, as hard as it may be, you should try to remind yourself that your viewpoint of the world is not the only one.
Additionally, you should strive to increase your ability to communicate empathetically and consciously try to understand the different perspectives of those around you. By intelligently communicating to understand others in this way, you will soon be able to handle any problem, argument, or disagreement more effectively.