See Beyond The Person
A simple concept that’s worth the time, intention, and effort
By Derick Turner
Every day you work with people you barely know. You spend hours of time working on projects, making small talk, and coexisting. But who are they really?
Every night you go home to people you probably haven’t fully discovered, figuring out dinner, doing some sort of activity, all the while you may not even be aware of what’s really going on in there lives.
It’s a sad fact that we often engage our lives with other people, and yet we think of them no deeper than the surface interaction taking place?
Years ago I realized my own shortcomings in this regard while listening to an inspiring talk by Simon Sinek. He was talking about values, explaining that for our values to be of significance they must be verbs. They must be actions, things you do, things you live by.
Inspired by this, I painstakingly developed five values I wanted to make the foundation for my life. I made sure they were all actionable. I made sure they were things I could judge myself against and improve my life by.
I carry a card around in my pocket with those values on them. They remind me of the person I wish to be. They help me work to become him.
One of those values has been resurfacing in my life frequently as of late. I’m recognizing times where I forget to follow it, or times I have to intentionally make an effort to live by it.
With these recent reminders I feel prompted to share the concept with others so perhaps we can all do better at it.
This value is “See beyond The person.”
There is so much more to the story
Let me explain what I mean a little better by sharing a scenario.
Imagine you’ve had a coworker you just don’t seem to get along with. Bless you if you don’t, you’re stronger than me, but I feel most people can relate.
This coworker just seems to rub you the wrong way. Whether it’s their fault, for intentionally committing some offense against you previously, or it’s just that you can’t seem to find a way to enjoy their presence, imagine you really struggle to make time interacting with them enjoyable.
I think we all recognize times we are short with others, impatiently trying to rush past a conversation or confrontation. There are those who may demand an extra measure of effort simply to complete a normal interaction.
Have you ever allowed yourself to stop and wonder why? Why is it so hard for you to like them? Why are they so annoying to you? What could possibly make them that way?
Well, first we should probably admit that it is completely within our control whether or not someone else annoys us. As grating as they may be, it is our choice to take offense at their differences and see them is such a light.
Having established that, do we ever humble ourselves enough to consider the reasons they are the way they are?
Everyone has a story, each as unique and complex as our own. Who are we to judge theirs with our biased perspective and background, and our clearly limited understanding? Yet, that’s exactly what we do.
There is so much more to the person
Seeing beyond the person is about recognizing that there is more to the individual than the outward representation of the being standing right in front of you.
When is the last time you saw a homeless person and truly considered what he was going back to at the end of the day? Have you thought about the home life of that fast food worker who didn’t seem to care much about your order for lunch?
There are people around us every day with incredibly complicated and overwhelming things happening to them that we don’t even know about.
A term has been coined for this awareness. It’s called Sonder.
Sonder is sometimes defined as “the profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.”
If we allow ourselves to recognize it, we would see that there is an incalculable collage constantly being created around us each and every day. We play only the most minuscule part in that creation, and yet, our part is everything to us.
Why then would we not be open to recognizing, and even respecting, the creation going on in the lives of those we interact with?
There is so much more to us
There it is. We just need to see beyond the person. It’s that simple, right?
Believe be, I’m guilty of failing at this all too often myself, but it’s something we can always be working on.
If we choose to see beyond the person, we are deciding to, if not be understanding of, at the very least be aware of, this fact.
Can you imagine how much different the world would be if we allowed ourselves to see others as equal human beings with dreams and desires as valuable as ours?
Before I go all John Lennon on you, let me just say I know this is not easy. I work at it every day, at least the days I remember about the little card in my pocket with this reminder.
I believe it is a goal worth pursuing though.
I know it sounds like I’m calling for a revolution of love and understanding. That would be amazing, but my intentions here are much simpler, and perhaps even more selfish.
What kind of person do you want to be?
That sounds like a simple question, but in application it takes some sincerity and commitment.
Are you the kind of person who wants to inspire good in others. Are you a person who wants to be welcomed and wanted by others? Do you want to be happier?
That’s what this is about, at least to start.
If you can see beyond the person, you will start to find that your interactions with others are better. This will lead you to feel better about yourself, and ultimately lead to a happier life.
Imagine being able to rest at night knowing you did a little more that day to understand and respect others; strangers, coworkers, friends, family or anyone else. This will bring you great peace, and will fill you with confidence and hope that you can be a better person.
Isn’t that what we’re trying to do with our lives after all?
Try it today. Try seeing beyond the person, beyond the moment, beyond the annoyance that may be right in front of you temporarily.
When you “see beyond the person” you are choosing to see them for more than what may be presently on display. You choose to see a person worthy of patience, understanding, and love.
I believe you’ll find the effort well worth it.
Question: What has happened when you chose to consciously see beyond the person? Leave a comment below.