How can perspective-taking and holistic thinking help us to cultivate well-being in life?
In interpersonal relationships, it is common for people to perceive the other party as either “good” or “bad”. For some people, it is unacceptable for one to find out a flaw in one’s close friend. For instance, it is disappointing and unacceptable for one of my clients finding out her best friend talked about her negatively in front of other friends in their social circle. She thought her best friend betrayed her and did not treat her as best friend. Thereafter, she decided to detach from her and started to isolate herself in that particular social circle. My client was unable to perceive in multiple perspectives and a holistic way. She was perceiving in a dichotomous way and was analysing only part of the whole. Her dichotomous thinking and atomistic analysing prevent her from cultivating a life with fruitful interpersonal relationships and successful career. How can she learn new ways of thinking to cultivate well-being in her life?
First of all, my client needs to understand that in each scenario or each individual, polarity exists. It is important for her to adopt a thinking that “good” or “bad” exist in the same situation or in the same individual. There is no either “good” or “bad” in all things. For example, her best friend may have talked about her negatively in front of other friends, but she may also have talked about her positively in other circumstances. Inside her best friend, jealousy or admiration can simultaneously exist. In some instances, she may feel proud of my client who had achieved success in her career. In other instances, she may feel jealous of my client and attribute some negative qualities onto my client when thinking about her success.
Secondly, it is important for my client to cultivate a mindset of perceiving things in a holistic perspective. In fact, instead of seeing things in isolation, she needs to understand that things are interrelated. It is incomplete or insufficient for my client to interpret a single action or reaction of an individual in isolation. This atomistic way of analysing actually prevents her to see things clearly and distorts her perception of the reality. For instance, my client might have done something rude or boostful in the past that causing her best friend to have a feeling of jealousy on her. She might frequently post boostful contents about her life in social media without reflecting that this might induce jealousy or unpleasant feelings on others whom might have going through difficulties in ones’ lives. As a result, her best friend said something negatively about her in a social gathering with other friends when they commented on her boostful behaviors. By seeing things in a holistic way, my client could realise her own contribution to her best friend’s behaviors.
Last but not least, my client also needs to understand that things in this world are constantly changing and evolving. Different variables in any circumstance and any individual are interacting from moment-to-moment. As a result, there is no stable or rigid nature in any situation or individual that she can count on for our analysis or interpretation. Since she could only see parts of the situation or the individual in any particular time, it may not be enough for her to analyse the whole given her limited perspectives. It is important for my client to adopt a view point that there is a continuous change in any thing or individual. In fact, her relationship with her best friend is also continuously changing depending on many factors, such as their own mental health state or their career status, etc.
It is common for us to interpret our environment or analyse people around us in a dichotomous or atomistically way. If we want to cultivate well-being in our lives, we need to take another approach by seeing things in multiple perspective and holistic view.