Many talks I’ve given have been about the perspective shift of being able to look through other people’s eyes. And while this is a deeply important skill to develop to inform ourselves and to evolve, if not done from a place of health, it can lead to enabling co-dependent behavior.
Healthy perspective shifting includes:
- Understanding that someone beeping in a car might be late and it might not be about you.
- Making the effort to see a situation from your loved one’s eyes during an argument.
- Taking the time to listen to a co-worker to really understand their needs.
- Consciously integrate shadow elements of ourselves (part of the 3-2-1 process from integral theory).
Perspective shifting is paramount to evolving and growing. But we need to do it consciously and mindfully. When we don’t, looking at the world through other people’s eyes can lead to unhealthy co-dependent behavior.
What is co-dependence?
- Someone who exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her.
- Co-dependence can also be a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress caused, for example, by a family member’s alcoholism or other addiction, sexual or other abuse within the family, a family members’ chronic illness, or forces external to the family, such as poverty.
- Codependency advocates claim that a co-dependent may feel shame about, or try to change, his or her most private thoughts and feelings if they conflict with those of another person. An example would be a wife making excuses for her husband’s excessive drinking and perhaps running interference for him by calling in sick for him when he is hung over. Such behaviors, which may well lessen conflict and ease tension within the family in the short term, are counterproductive in the long term, since, in this case, the wife is actually supporting (“enabling”) the husband’s drinking behavior.
- My simplified definition is when we lose ourselves to the idea of another. When I am looking at my life solely or primarily through your eyes.
What is the difference between a healthy perspective shift, and losing oneself in another through co-dependent behavior? The difference is when we know who we are. Other’s perspectives should inform us, but our actions need to remain based on our own values. This touches deeply on understanding our values and beliefs. And while this could be a whole other talk, our values and beliefs need to be understood, and at least peripherally mentioned here.
My first talk I said that beliefs are an error of taking an opinion and treating it as a truth. What I meant by that is that an unconscious, unexplored belief is an attachment that limits, or affects, how we see the world. But we all have beliefs, we all have values, even though there is an ideal groundless state of being. To express ourselves as humans, as selves in relation to others, we need to be clear on what our attachments, beliefs and values are. The more we know about who we are as people, the more evolved, awake, and informed we are.
Gaining the skill of looking at the world consciously through other people’s eyes is an important growth for people. But we need to use the idea of an other’s perspective to inform our own perspective, not lose our own perspective to someone else.[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/LookingThroughOtherPeoplesEyes.mp3]