Nietzsche said: “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” The question is: has the abyss always been staring at you and you only noticed it when you looked at it? Or has it only stared at you when you did? Our ideas are a reflection of ourselves, a mirror of what is buried deep within our souls. When we see the world, we believe we see it exactly as it is, but that is so not true. Objectivity is an illusion. We see the world through a lens, a lens that is made up of our beliefs and experiences. What we truly see is the abyss of our souls staring at us. Everything is subjective. You cannot step into the same river twice, but does the same river look exactly the same to two people looking at it? Probably not.
In one of his poems, William Wordsworth wrote: “The child is the father of the man.” There is a meaning that the poet intended and only he knows what that might be. Other meanings we infer based on our perspective and knowledge. I’ve recently watched Dark series on Netflix, and I couldn’t help thinking about Wordsworth’s line throughout. The series has given it a new interesting meaning. Wendy T. Behary, a psychotherapist, has also been intrigued by this particular line. In Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, she discusses how our childhood experiences influence our lives afterwards. Your childhood has so much power over you. New situations trigger old feelings and behaviors. We may not be aware of it but our childhood shapes how we see the world and how we react to it. She says in her book that the child is the father of the man because the child in you tells your older self what to do even at an unconscious level.
All my life, I’ve been wandering why can’t people put themselves in other people’s shoes? How can they not feel the suffering of others? How can they not understand another person’s point of view? Or, why can’t anyone relate to my experience no matter how much I try to explain it? I’ve always thought I can put myself in other people’s shoes, but I was mistaken. Books can get you closer to understanding the perspective of others, but no matter how much you read, nothing matches the real experience. An experience leaves an inerasable mark on your soul, a scar. You simply cannot be the same person, twice. An experience will affect how you see others. If you’ve met a lot of untrustworthy people, your reaction to those you meet for the first time will be doubt. An experience recreates your character and makes you a unique human being. This is probably the reason you never understand why people act the way they do and it’s why they also think your actions are a mystery.
I’ve developed this understanding of perspective recently. In not so remote past, you would see me trying to shove my optimism down people’s throats and wondering why they can’t see the bright side. I’ve seen those who are optimistic despite their hardships and those who whine despite their blessings. I always felt like I have a mission to spread positivity, to make others see the world exactly as I see it:
I believe optimism and pessimism reflect our inner souls. We project our feelings to the world. A situation is not good or bad. It is how we decide to see it. If you feel the world is going to meet you with kindness, it will. If you feel good things are coming your way, they are. The world rewards you for your optimism. Also, if you believe the world is out there to get you, it will eventually get you. You attract what you believe. The world treats you based on how you see it.
As Paulo Coelho wrote: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” It is as simple as that. If you work toward a particular end, you have a huge chance of achieving that end. Do you know why that is? Because if you believe this particular end is possible, you will do your best to get there. If you don’t think it’s possible, you won’t work hard for it and that makes it impossible. Believing you’re a victim disempowers you. Life is like a game of tennis where your opponent carefully plans their moves according to how you move. And together you dance. Do you see a problem in every opportunity or an opportunity in every problem? Are you expecting a great outcome and working toward it or waiting for a disaster that ruins the beauty of the present moment?
I love my positive outlook on life. It has encouraged me to do better and to feel better. I’m grateful for it but I’ve learnt the hard way that I don’t necessarily have to convert others to optimism. Someone would describe their situation, misery, and I will try to let them look at the bright side, to see what they are not seeing. Over the years, I realized it’s draining, and it doesn’t work. It’s exactly like pouring all your energy into a cracked container. What I failed to see was this: They never could see what I see just as it was difficult for me to see what they see. Pessimists and optimists come from different places. Sharing optimism is not as simple as passing optimistic glasses to others. Just like your prescription glasses won’t fit anybody else, your rose-colored glasses won’t fit anybody else. People can hear my words, but my words would be devoid of meaning because they lack my experience.
Eventually, you learn that there’s nothing better than letting people be. Trying to change how others see the world is both a waste of time and energy. Focusing on your journey is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you have inner sunshine, just keep it for your rainy days. Why waste all your energy on others, if it could be devoted to changing the only person you are capable of improving: You?