It is important for us to strike a balance between our subjectivity and objectivity

All of us may have experiences of realizing that our judgment on others basing on limited information may usually be different from the reality.  For instance, a customer service staff subjectively thought that a client who presented himself as very polite and respectful on the phone was a very nice person with good intention.  She later found out that this client filed a complaint on her and accused her having made a mistake in the ordering after the phone call.  This caused her to suffer from a penalty by her boss.  In another instance, a secretary talked to one of her boss’s clients whom she thought was very rude.  However, when this client arrived in the office one week later to meet her boss, she found that this client was very sincere and accommodating.  This client also praised her in front of her boss for her detail-mindedness.

According to David Eaglement, an American neuroscientist, we all have an illusion that we can perceive the reality.  We may be too confident of our own perception and own thoughts.  For example, when a man saw a person’s face in the street on his way to work, this person’s face as a stimulus becomes sensory signal entering his brain.  The signal as visual information was sent to the thalamus, the brain’s information relay station, and then being sent to the visual cortex for him to perceive the face.  However, there are almost ten times more of signals from the visual cortex sending from the opposition direction through the thalamus.  As a result, his perception was also basing on the internal model of the brain to generate an impression.  Is it the reality?  Of course, it may not be the reality.  It is because our perception on this person’s face is also based on our internal model of someone with similar features and physique.  In this case, we may think this person is a good friend trying to say hi to him.  Only when he realized this person did not respond to his greetings, he suddenly realized the reality that he was a stranger.

Chris McCurry, a clinical psychologist experienced in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, also used a technique, “looking at versus looking through” our thoughts, to illustrate that we are frequently being affected by our preconception in our thoughts and perception.  For instance, when we feel anxious, we tended to perceive a neutral tone of voice by a caller as threatening or rude.  We may immediately think that this person may try to do some harm to us.  It is like seeing the color in the room as purple when we are wearing a pair of goggles with purple lenses.  In fact, our perception that the room as purple was so real that we thought it was the reality because we were looking through the lenses.  If we are wearing a pair of “anxiety goggles”, this makes everything we encountering as scary and dangerous. 

Therefore, it is important for us to realize that we tended to see from our pair of goggles, such as “anger goggles” or “anxiety goggles”.  When we are aware that we are seeing through these pairs of goggles, we may try to take them off.  That is, we try to look at our thoughts as thoughts, our emotions as emotions.  For those with the “anxiety goggles” on, when taking off the goggles, ones can still feel the anxiety is still there, but may intentionally try to see from a more objective angle.  Ones may try to think, “I may now see from my anxiety goggles that I see things as threat.  However, my thoughts may be contaminated by my pair of anxiety goggles.  Thoughts are not facts.”  After looking at our thoughts, we can be objective to react to the situations, without being too subjective.

It is important for us to realise the fact that we can never have the full picture of the reality.  Therefore, it is wiser for us to cultivate an open mind in the face of our perceived threats.  With objectivity, we can use our subjective senses in a better way.  We can choose to take actions according to the practical needs of the situations without being oversensitive and too subjective.

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