That Second Look

There is a tendency to make our minds up about people on the basis of very little evidence, we can jump to conclusions faster than a speeding bullet. All too often our assessment of others is lubricated by what “they” say. And once we have made our minds up we rarely take a second look because we have already concluded and decided, therefore there is no need. It is my experience that the second look can be very worthwhile.

At face value I look like pretty much any middle-aged man, slightly fat and at the moment, limping a little. If I got into a road rage incident with a young fit man, he might assume on the basis of appearance that he could beat me in a fight, he would not take a second look. It might take for us to be rolling on the ground with me pressing tight on his carotid arteries for him to reconsider, to take a second look. He would have made a rash judgement call which could temporarily cost him his consciousness. In this hypothetical situation he did not show enough respect.

And when we think we know someone, we rarely take a second look. We are convinced that we know all about them. On occasion we might get a surprise about what they are capable of, either a pleasant surprise or a less pleasant one. Our façades can hide a great deal. But once we have stereotyped and pigeon-holed someone, they remain forever in that pigeon hole of our perception. Even when the data or evidence in regard of its inaccuracy starts to mount, we cling on to that definition. In our mind’s eye there is no escape from the pigeon hole. Family are quite the worse for this. We see little Johnny as we always see him, even if he changes into a Kylie. He will always be Johnny to us, even when he looks like Kylie. In this way we prevent each other from evolving by the stories we hold and repeat.

It can be very useful to take a second look, to re-spect, to re-evaluate, to re-consider.

As an exercise:

Select a couple of people currently in your life. Take a second look at them. Try to figure out if you have a faulty image of them and what they are. For a few moments take your current picture of them and imagine that they are the diametric opposite of the view you currently hold. Do the 180-degree shift in your perception.

How much of your view of them comes from what “they” say?   

How much of your view is your own?

Can a second look sometimes be worthwhile?