Robin Hood is infamously known as the one who ‘steals from the rich to give to the poor.’
He is an interesting character because he forces us to see things from a different point of view.
If asked, we would probably all say that stealing is wrong but would consider it less wrong if it was for the sake of those less fortunate.
And so we don’t consider Robin Hood to be a ‘bad person’. He’s someone who does a bad thing thing for a good reason.
What would happen if we extended that level of awareness to people in real life, not to accept or encourage ‘bad’ behaviour but to simply acknowledge that we understand.
One thing perhaps not thought about often enough is that there is only a small percentage of the population that have a real understanding of science.
The rest of us simply trust what is said or what we read and choose to believe it to be true.
Or on the flipside there are those that choose to form their own opinions.
But this can often lead to a clash between those that choose to beleive and trust in something that they don’t understand and those that don’t.
This isn’t about conspiracies or trying to disprove scientific theory. Instead it is about simply acknowledging that it can be difficult to trust something that you don’t understand.
Do you really know what you want?
Often we go around telling people what we do want and even what we don’t want. Doing so can help you feel like you know and understand yourself because you’re able to articulate your needs.
What can end up happening is, when the needs you voiced are met, you come to find that it’s not what you really wanted at all.
Suddenly, you find yourself going back on your previous statement or displaying emotions like frustration or annoyance at the person who has done what you asked.
For example, you may say that you want to be left alone. However, when everyone leaves you end up getting upset.
The truth of that matter is that you didn’t really want to be left alone. Perhaps, it’s that you felt misunderstood, wanted someone to sit with you and listen or just wanted comfort. However, voicing these kinds of needs isn’t always easy because they show your vulnerable side.
It’s much easier to just say that you want to be alone, particularly when you’re not sure if the people around you are capable of meeting your real needs.
But, if you give the people around you some credit and allow yourself to be vulnerable for just a moment, you might find that you’re able to get exactly what you need.
When viewing a piece of work it’s important to understand the vision.
What is the intention behind the work?
It’s like when their is a piece of art and people don’t get. They will criticise it and complain about it or say that they don’t understand.
Those thoughts come from the perpective of the viewer.
But if you then think about it from the artists perspective or even read/listen to the artist talk about their work, you might start to understand the vision a little more.
Sometimes it’s easy for a message to get lost in translation, especially when you’re viewing it through the lenses of your own biases, interests and experiences.
I used to be the kind of person that would internalise everything.
For example, if I didn’t get the job I applied for it was because I wasn’t good enough and not that they had 7 excellent candidates and only one role to fill so not everyone could be a winner.
I could give countless other examples but me internalising those experiences all came from the same place, this feeling of not being good enough. It’s a strange realisation when you start to understand that the way you see yourself contributes to the way you experience life.
Once I started working on how I saw myself, my entire outlook on life changed.
I recently had this experience where someone was intentionally inconsiderate. In the past I’d have kept quiet, felt bad, got upset and allowed that one moment to ruin the rest of my day.
Instead, I responded by simply asking why this person chose to be inconsiderate.
I understand why some people might up being that way but it doesn’t mean they can’t change, if they want to.
Privilege is a complex thing.
I think the reason that so many people have a hard time accepting their privilege is because they feel like it negates their hard work. They’re not comfortable with the realisation that if it wasn’t for certain things about them, they would have experienced life very differently. More often than not having more hurdles to overcome.
Privilege comes in many forms: financial, gender, race, sexuality and religion for a start but there is so much more.
And so if you come under the categories of Middle class, Male, White, Straight and Christian there is evidence to show that you face less barriers. Furthermore, the categories you fit into don’t disadvantage you, for the most part.
It can be challenging for people that feel like they have worked hard to be told that they’re privileged. They’re often the ones that believe in meritocracy and feel like anyone who can’t achieve the same as them must not be working hard enough.
Ironically, it’s often that everyone else has had to work harder.
I think the easiest way to understand this whole thing of privilege is to meet more people that are not like you. That way you actually get to see the what it’s like for other people.
Whether that is not continuing education because they can’t afford it, worrying that their natural hair will be a barrier to employment or even constantly having negative assumptions thrown at them because of their religions beliefs.
The point of all this is not for you to feel bad, the point is to gain understanding and awareness.
Your privilege doesn’t negate your hard work but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The easiest perspective to understand a situation from is your own. If you look back on past experiences you can get a good idea of why you respond the way you do, what gets you enraged and perhaps what helps you stay calm.
But a helpful perspective to try and understand is the perspective of others. For example, when you and Person A have a disagreement if you’re only willing to see things from your point of view you won’t get a full picture of the situation.
As much as you have past experiences that effect the way you are, challenges and even things stressing you out, you’re not alone in that. And so if you remember that Person A has all those same things too, it might make their perspective easier to understand.
Let’s say Person A lies to you. From your perspective you might be angry/hurt that they lied and wished that they could have been honest. But when you make the effort to understand things from Person As perspective you might realise that they have always been someone that struggles with opening up. Or you’ll remember that since you haven’t taken their honesty well in the past the lie probably wasn’t coming from a cruel or malicious place.
That doesn’t mean you need to excuse bad behaviour but it serves as a reminder that situations aren’t always as shallow as we like to pretend they are.
Understand others isn’t about psychoanalysing or thinking that you know everything about why a person is the way they are, it’s just about having compassion.
Even if we don’t say it, it’s what we’d like extended to us, so why not do the same for others.
When you discuss a complex issue with someone who has little to no knowledge of the issue, you’re unlikely to get the desired outcome.
More often than not you’ll end up frustrated and they’ll end up defensive.
It takes time to learn and understand complex issues but it also takes some unlearning.
When a person discovers new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs, they will never automatically accept it, it’s too difficult.
The things we believe shape how we define ourselves and the decisions we make so when something effects that, it’s frightening. You might find yourself questioning your entire existence.
On the other hand, it’s can be much easier to just stick with what you know.
If that’s the conscious choice you make don’t pretend that you’re not aware of the complex issues.
In the past couple of weeks you’ve probably seen things happen that you would have once considered bad. Yet the way these events have unfolded, these acts are almost worthy of praise.
When you look at an incident in isolation, it’s easy to make a judgement about what is wrong or right, what should or shouldn’t happen and if something is good or bad. It’s something we do quite often.
We go around making assumptions based on limited information ignoring the fact that we don’t know the full story because it’s fun to fill in the gaps. But also because sometimes the full story takes more time and effort than we are willing to give.
It’s much easier to assume that someone is wrong than it is to consider the why behind their actions. This may not have any real impact in the moment however, in the long run simply choosing the easiest thought path can have negative results.
So, it might be worth slowing down, looking at the bigger picture, getting informed and then making a judgment based on much more than surface level understanding.
Sometimes you don’t get it, until you do.
Creativity, self-expression and art is all based on perception.
One mans trash really is another mans treasure.
When it comes to art it’s easy to overlook something or think that you don’t like it. But the truth might just be that you haven’t given it time.
I was recently surprised at something creative, I assumed I wouldn’t like it for various reasons.
In my moment of being pleasantly surprised, I had a mini aha moment where things clicked and I started to understand the art.
But I also realised that I’d told myself this story about what I do and don’t like, as a result I closed myself off to things I may have actually liked.
A lot of other people do this and that they don’t even know it.