Are Interpretations Causing Your Problems? Improve Your Point of View
Interpretations: the good, the bad…the flexible?
Interpretations are your way of categorizing, and making sense of, what’s going on in your environment. It can take a split second and this helps you to react quickly to whatever is coming at you. When you interpret something, you create an opinion about an event, situation, or experience. In essence, you create an explanation and then look for evidence to support its validity. However, when you make an interpretation, you don’t even see that other explanations exist. In actuality, though, an interpretation often represents only one viewpoint among the many that are possible. Once you have settled on an opinion you are in essence wearing blinders that prevent you from being aware of what else is possible.
Your interpretations hold a strong energetic charge, which affects your emotions and actions. If you believe your viewpoint of a particular situation is the only explanation, you might not be aware of another point of view. You may end up wasting a lot of time and resources marching off in the wrong direction. Because you don’t see that other possibilities exist, you remain stuck in your story, and feel like you have no control over the outcome.
So let’s say you come into work one day, and your employee gives you less than a warm welcome as you head to your office. If you think that your employee acted that way because he is angry with you, you might spend the morning wondering what you did to upset him. You might be hesitant to approach him with anything but stellar feedback on his performance or avoid approaching him at all. Or, you might get angry back wondering why you were being treated with a cold shoulder when you had not done anything to cause it.
As with assumptions, interpretations are personal and are somewhat difficult to let go of and challenge. Holding onto them may seem like the easy way out, as facing them may move you into uncharted territory. However, challenging your interpretations opens you up to a world of possibilities, literally.
Typical interpretations may sound like this:
- He doesn’t like me.
- She thinks I’m incompetent.
- They don’t want to do the work.
- My customers don’t appreciate what I do for them.
Interpretations can be directly challenged by asking: “What’s another way to look at that?” Just realizing that there are other ways to look at something lessens the power of your interpretation. One way to do this is to imagine what another individual’s perspective of the situation might be. Asking for someone else’s point of view on a difficult situation (even if they are not directly involved) can break existing paradigms and open pathways for more successful solutions. Challenging yourself or others to argue the point of view directly opposite your interpretation also works remarkably well to arrive at new information, new angles, and new solutions.
In the example of the employee above, perhaps the reason why he barely acknowledged you was that he just received a disturbing phone call about a family member, or he had a deadline that had to be met – or…well, there are many possible explanations. It would be a missed opportunity if you avoided talking to them or worse, started treating them differently because now you’re angry at them.
Before you “jump to conclusions” and believe the first story that comes to mind, consider other possibilities that could lead you to new, empowering choices and actions.
In the next post we are taking on the biggest of the Big 4 energy blocks, the Inner Critic.