Our Worldview Shapes Our Experience
We all have an individual worldview. Our view of the world can be a big picture or a series of details. Much depends on our psychological makeup, experiences, beliefs and ideas about the world. As individuals, we are all unique in this respect. Our worldviews are individual. So no matter how much we try, we can never completely see the world the same as another. Empathy and compassion can help us to do this by virtue of “walking in another’s shoes” We might be “seeing things from their point of view” for example. But you can never ever have the exact same experience as another because of our different world views.
Over the years, my own worldview has changed considerably. As has the world at large. Much of this is taken as read because mostly we believe the world is happening to us and our perceptions change. Take for example the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For me as a child; the Berlin Wall starkly defined the huge gap between communism and capitalism. The falling of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of communism as we knew it. Collectively many of us changed our worldview as a result. On a micro level, my various life experiences, having children, divorcing, hitting rock bottom, and the amazing high’s I’ve experienced have all shaped my worldview. I’m sure similar life events have shaped yours.
And so life goes on, each of us experiencing our worldviews and often trying to get others to see things from our viewpoint, or trying to convince others we are right.
For many years I have searched for truth and while the world is an ever-changing place, there are some truths I have discovered, which may well seem obvious, but often they don’t always permeate our worldview. These truth’s if truly embraced can shape your worldview for the better.
1. The human form in all ways is transient
Nothing in our physical world lasts forever. That might seem obvious, but if you really think about it, you will realise that for many of us our whole worldview is based on resistance to this fact. We invest our energies and resources into achieving goals or preserving our fortunes, or our relationships which don’t work, or we pour our efforts into maintaining a physical environment, which will either change naturally or we will pass on.
Many of you may well think that is a stark and depressing truth. However, if we can adjust our worldview to embrace this truth. Our lives will be changed forever. Think of the world where we can connect, enjoy and when the time comes, let go of our physical possessions and companions, remembering and celebrating the time we had. Instead, we grasp, attach ourselves to, resist the passing of; money, possessions and relationships and other physical forms.
2. We are observers who believe we are perceivers
“All the world is [indeed] a stage” (Shakespeare) Expanding on that analogy we are like actors in a play. We are in there acting out the drama and experiencing and perceiving the world through the current scene we are involved in. We judge others because of their beliefs or actions, we feel afraid of what might be coming next and so we erect huge defences to stop horrible things happening. Someone speaks harshly to us and we take it personally and never again will we perceive that person as “safe”. We believe the world is being done to us and so we have learned to “perceive” our reality.
If you imagine being in a film theatre and being immersed in the film. When you are watching it, nothing else exists for you. That’s how we have become immersed in our world. A good way to simply understand this truth is to just for a few moments a day, take a psychological step back and look at what you are doing. Look at what you are thinking. When you are able to view your life like it’s a movie, even for short periods of time. You come to the realisation, that who you really are is the observer of your life, not the participant.
3. We learn to see the world differently through our experiences, therefore, we are experiential learners
Our beliefs, worldview and our ideas will never change unless we experience something which gives us cause to change things. I was a fairly successful mother of 3 kids, who was able to cope with most things life threw at me until my beliefs, ideas and feelings about the world caused me to lose everything. At that time, I couldn’t believe what happened and was angry and resentful for months. I realised though that without that experience, I would not have begun the search within and taken full responsibility for my experience in the world.
I used to think that experiences shaped our world, but actually, it is our inner worldview, beliefs, thoughts and feelings which are creating our experiences. Our experiences are therefore gifts to help us to change our inner world to create and think again. We know intellectually many things, but we rarely change things for the better until we experience something to motivate us to understand there must be another way. The change always is created within first.
4. Our lives only have the meaning we choose to give it
Viktor Frankl the renowned author and Holocaust survivor in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, observed men who had understandably given up. They decided life held nothing more for them. It struck Frankl as a terrible mistake, even in those situations where life seemed so hopeless. “We are not here to judge life according to what we expected from it and what it has delivered”. Rather, he realised, “we must find the courage to ask what life expects of us, day by day“. What Frankl did in those unimaginable times in that concentration camp was to look within and take even such a terrible situation and turn it into a learning experience.
This example may seem extreme, but on a daily basis, we are giving meaning to events in our lives. We react and our thoughts and feelings act on what we decide these events mean for us. It starts early in childhood. Our parents scream at us when we are running towards the road. Of course, they just want to keep us safe, but without understanding that concept, we believe we are bad. Someone at work stops speaking to you. You wonder what you’ve done wrong. Or we get shouted at by the boss and we feel anger and resentment. We are always providing the meaning to such events. However, we can always think again, make up a different meaning and change our experience.
5. Our inner world creates our outer world
We have it the wrong way round. We think that we are victims of a cruel and harsh world. But the truth is that it is our inner world which creates the experience of our outer world. At all times we are projecting our beliefs, ideas and feelings onto “the stage”. You might pooh-pooh books such as “The Secret” which describe how our thoughts and awareness can actually “attract” circumstances and “things” in our lives.
As we become more conscious of what is in our unconscious minds or aware of what we don’t know, these concepts don’t seem as outlandish, and the findings of quantum science become a step nearer to acknowledging the power of our minds. Gandhi’s famous quote “to be the change you want to see” is foundational to this concept. If you want to see a loving, compassionate world, then that’s what you must become.
So there you have 5 truths I have uncovered on my search. I’d be really interested to find out if you’ve any to add!