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April 25, 2023

The Observing Eye And The Perceiving Eye

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I want to quickly share a perspective I heard about our vision. We have two different eyes that we see through. I’m not talking biologically of course, I’m talking psychologically.

There are two lenses that we observe the world through and today I want to make a distinction between them.

The first eye is the observing eye. This eye is the present experience of how things are objectively in front of you. It determines what is fact and what is not.

The second eye is the perceiving eye. This eye is the more complex representation of how things are. It incorporates additional considerations that help you to assign meaning to what you’re seeing.

Just like we can see better when we use both of our eyes, giving us 3-dimensional vision and more information to work with, similarly we need to employ both of our psychological eyes to see the truth in what we’re understanding.

That’s because we spend 99% of our time seeing through our perceiving eye. We want to know what everything means and how it impacts us, and for that reason we’re constantly evaluating, assessing, and perceiving.

But the process of perception is distorted. It is biased by our current emotions, it pulls from our lived experiences and histories, it’s influenced by our unconscious belief systems, and it manufactures a truth we want to see rather than allows us to see it for what it is.

This will run out of control unless we use the other, observing eye, to challenge what we’re concluding. It helps us to think more holistically rather than in the same patterns we’re accustomed to.

A great example of this is in communication, particularly conflict resolution. Many people share their opinions, judgments, and perspective on the situation to make their point. What they often omit are the undeniable facts that help to level-set the conversation.

The conversation transforms from “You texted me late in the evening and that was disrespectful” to “You texted me at 10:30 pm after I had already fallen asleep, and it made me feel like my time was being disrespected.”

The observing eye takes the color out of the perceptive eye, and sometimes we need that to better see how things actually are rather than how we’ve made them up to be.

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