The Blindfold Effect

“Every theory is a self-fulfilling prophecy that orders experience into the framework it provides.” – Ruth Hubbard

We see what we want to see, we hear what we want to hear, we believe what we want to believe. How much of it is true, and how much of it is conjured out of our own minds? In psychology we learn about self-prophecy, where we perceive something as true because we’ve been told it’s true. And as old Ruthie put it, if we hear it from someone whom we know is speaking from experience, we’re all the more convinced that it’s true. But how do we know that’s what it really is? They may not be outright lying, but as our experiences influence the way we think and behave, it’s possible that the version of events they’re giving is merely the result of them warping the truth in their own minds.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last couple of years, it’s to always, always maintain perspective, and never be blindsided, even though my past experiences have jaded me and conditioned me to expect the worst out of people. We may think that the way we’re treated by some people shows exactly what we are to them, but we have to keep the reality that that’s just how they are very firmly fixed in our minds. We may think that the slightest inconsistency could mean a turning of the tide, but it doesn’t discount the big picture that we’ve come to know and rely on to help us make the right decisions.

But how do we know that our perspective is the right one? How do we know that we’re only thinking a certain way because of everything we’ve seen and been told, and that maybe there’s a significant piece that we’ve overlooked because it could go against the very core of our perspective and our principles? And if we’re unable to wrap our minds around, or even remotely consider, that alternative view, does that mean we could be walking down the wrong road, never allowing all the other options to show us what the road not taken could lead us to or save us from?

Over the past few weeks I’ve had my views on several issues skewed in one direction. I’ve forced myself not to look at them in any other way, which has led people to ask why I’m being such a pessimist and why I can’t just let my guard down and think that maybe at some point things could be better — or at least different. And all I can think is that given the circumstances, and seeing how history has repeated itself more than once, there doesn’t seem to be any alternate ending, no matter how much I want there to be an alternate ending.

So which perspective is it: the one we have or the one we risk losing?

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