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Have you ever been with someone when you are both seeing the same event, yet come away with two completely different interpretations of what you just saw? Debates are a common example when both sides’ supporters watch the same argument and both claim victory and that the other side is misinformed. Debates aren’t the only time this occurs, though.

In my upcoming book, “The Deep See”, I talk about a picture I often use in my classes to help students see how different their perspectives can be. In the picture, a cat is looking at a mirror in which it sees its reflection as a tiger. I ask the students to interpret what they are seeing, experiencing and feeling as they look at the picture. Inevitably, the responses widely vary.

What can cause people to see the same thing yet see it so differently? The answer is perspective. We all view things through our own filters which have been defined over the course of our lifetimes. Our upbringing, culture, religion (or lack thereof), political views, our work experience and even our mood at that moment shape what we see, how we feel and what we interpret.

As we look at the cat and tiger picture, some see a kitten with big aspirations, others see the kitten’s vision for what he wants to be when he grows up, yet someone else may see delusion. Some see a cat looking at a tiger, yet others see it looking at a lion, because they prefer attributes possessed by lions. Even narrowing in on the tiger’s eyes, some see wisdom, some see kindness and some see tiredness, while others see sadness.

Listening to others’ perspectives is often very telling, because we all tend to project our life views into the sights we see and the experiences we have. By analyzing our own answers to what we see, we will often gain clues to what is abundant or missing in our own lives.

So, are you seeing what you think you are seeing? Yes! Just remember you are not seeing things from an unfiltered perspective, which means you may not be seeing the same thing as the person standing next to you.