What’s Your Map Look Like?
Have you ever looked at a map? A map gives you a rough description of an area. It can give you roads, bodies of water, green areas for woods, and even draws where mountainous areas are. It helps you maneuver your way through areas that you may or may not be familiar with.
Maps nowadays, come in many different ways. Yes, we have those old paper maps that I grew up with. We have maps on the apps on our phones, we have Google maps and other satellite maps that can give us some of the most descriptive views.
The maps with picture views, be it from a satellite above or from street views, are far more superior than the paper maps. You can see more detail and have a better idea of what to expect. You can see businesses and buildings, so you will recognize the area when you get there. Even then, if the map is dated, businesses have closed, or change or new roads are created, you can still get confused or lost.
We all have a mental map of our own. This mental map is not so much a geographical map to help us traverse roads. It is more of a map of how the world works, that helps us traverse life. Unfortunately, for most if not all of us, we don’t have the Google technology to get a stunningly accurate picture of what is going on.
Our maps are maps that have been forming since the day we were born. Our individual map is formed through our experiences, beliefs, and values. It is how we see the world, how we interpret what is going on around us. If your map is a culmination of your experiences, beliefs, and values and my map is the same for me, then we have different maps. If the maps determine how we see the world and interpret whatever we see happening, then we will see things differently. As a matter of fact, no one sees everything in the same way. No one gives the same meaning to everything either.
“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are ─ or, as we are conditioned to see it.” ── Dr. Steven Covey
I learned a while ago that if there are several witnesses to an event and each one gives the exact same story, police get suspicious because they know that individuals always see things just a bit differently (we have different maps). When we are with our siblings, parents, or lifelong friends and we think back to a specific event, we find that we all remember the event just a little differently, and we may be absolutely sure that we are correct. At the time it happened, we all saw and experienced it differently according to our maps (and the state we were in at the time, if I might add another variable).
The bottom line is that we all see things a little differently. We have filters on our experiences that come from our maps. Our emotional states add to the filters as well. One person sees something as a good thing, and another sees it as a bad thing. One person might see someone as doing something intentionally and another sees that person as doing something accidentally or out of their control. There is no ‘real’ reality that everyone can experience or see. We filter just about everything.
Disagreements and contention come in when one person sees something one way and there may be so many other ways to look at it. This reminds me of the story of John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, has told many times. He tells of a time when he was on a bus or subway train and there were two little children running around and making a lot of noise. He thought that whoever the parents are, they were kind of rude, letting their children run all over the place, disturbing others. He further went on to think that they must not be good parents at all – they either had no control or exerted little discipline, leaving their children in unsafe circumstances. He noticed that the gentleman across from him leaned over and said in a weak voice, “I’m sorry about the kids. We just came back from the hospital and their mom passed away. They don’t realize it yet and I just don’t know what I am going to do.” Within seconds, John’s heart broke for the man and his judgements of him as a parent went completely away.”
“Our maps cause our judgments.”
Our maps cause our judgments. When we have no clue that other people have different experiences, different beliefs, and different values, we tend to think that everyone else thinks like we do and when we see them ‘doing something wrong’ they should be aware of it and correct it. We don’t give credence to the idea that someone else may be experiencing difficult times or may not realize that something they are doing is bad/rude/embarrassing/uncalled for and so on.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
The way to get over this issue is first to understand and accept that we all have different maps. We all have the capability of seeing things differently from other people. We all have different experiences, beliefs, and values. The next thing is to respect that someone has a different map than you. Keep your mind open to the fact that not everyone thinks as you do. Maybe something is going on that you do not know about (like the man sitting next to John on the subway). Maybe it is something you cannot comprehend, like different cultural behaviors. When you can open your mind and awareness, your judgments will melt away and your filters will diminish.
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If you want more information on how you can let go of judgments and respect others’ Maps of the World, contact us through www.peakperformancemindsetcoaching.com or email me at email@example.com.