‘Doubting Thomases’ are known to show their lack of faith by saying that they will ‘believe it when they see it’, but perhaps the expression ‘you see what you believe’ is one deserving of more consideration?
From the basic issue of sight and how we process images to a deeper level this is true. Although the biological processes are very interesting, consider the mental and psychological processes at work here.
What is your general view of the world? Would you describe yourself as more optimistic or pessimistic? If you watch the news what jumps out at you more – the terrible way humans treat each other or our perseverance in times of adversity? Do you gloat over other’s misfortunes or see people being human and making mistakes?
This personal perspective will back up your beliefs and help you enforce them. You will see what you believe wherever you look. Think back to a time when you wanted something really badly. Did you notice how everyone apart from you seemed to have one?
Children often use this tactic with parents over many things – ‘everyone in my class is allowed to stay up late’; all my friends have a …’. It is likely that in their world view this is true. A parent’s role is to help the child see that this is not the case; life is not black and white but actually works on a sliding scale.
This ‘seeing what you believe’ is often a big sticking point with self esteem. I hear so often of people convinced that they are ugly, useless, boring and so on. The danger here is that can become self-fulfilling as behaviours and mannerisms subtly change to back up these beliefs.
Learning the skills to question yourself about your beliefs – whether it is about your self-esteem or your view of human nature is worth mastering. Ask yourself what real evidence exists to support your belief (back to believing what you see!). Consider your attitude or view of the situation on a sliding scale; where does it really fit – such as not everyone is deceitful, nor is everyone totally honest.
Time for reflection – do you believe everything you see or is what you see what you believe?