Humour me, if you would be so kind. Please give my thoughts a chance by taking the time to read this and by remaining open minded while you do so. In my mind, the perfect reader of this is the one who strives to understand my point in its entirety.
Here I go:
One of the most incredible things in the world (to me) is the feeling I get as I go through my day, knowing all the while that other people think differently than I do.
I'm serious. Please let me explain.
People are individuals. Each and every person in the world is different, based not only in terms of personal life experiences and challenges, but in terms of personality as well. This difference between each person causes a phenomenon known as "human interaction". Human interaction is very different from other forms of interaction such as interaction with animals or with inanimate objects (exception: interactions similar to those had in human interaction can occur when dealing with animals that are seen as having human-like characteristics).
(Forgive me if you are having trouble understanding what I am saying. I'm scavenging my brain for an effective way to explain what it is that I'm trying to say. I want as many people to be able to understand it as possible.)
Let me first try explaining this by using my own point of view as an example.
So, as I go through my day, I come across other people and have some kind of interaction with each of them, usually without giving it any second thought. I walk by people on the street or in hallways. I converse with people at home, at school, at church. I chat with people online.
And for every person I see, meet, or have any interaction whatsoever with, I automatically start analysing them.
In fact, you do the same thing. During every human interaction you have, you are making some kind of analysis of the other person. Whether that analysis is done consciously or subconsciously, intimately or impersonally, it happens. It's just a human mental reflex.
Now, I have a tenancy to try and interpret a person in terms of myself during periods of human interaction. What I mean by that is, when interpreting another person, I'm inclined to use myself as a basis, making observations and drawing conclusions about people and situations based on my life.
I actually believe that most of the people in the world tend to use this kind of "self-basis interpretation" when interacting with others while going through their daily lives.
Let's use teasing as an example to help explain my point:
I'm sure everyone knows what teasing is. Sometimes it is fun for a person to just say whatever insulting thing that he would like and not feel guilty about it because he is "just kidding" and is perhaps attempting to make his point clear by speaking in a sarcastic manner. Of course, not everyone is always ready to take a little friendly teasing. Eventually, someone is going to get insulted. And when that happens, there is a conflict.
So, who is right and who is wrong in this conflict? Is the insulter too insensitive or is the insulted overly-sensitive?
The answer is subjective - it depends on who you are.
Perhaps you are someone who has teased others before and never had a problem with it. Obviously the insulted one is overly-sensitive.
Perhaps you are someone who has been offended before by another's teasing. Obviously the insulter is insensitive.
Or perhaps you are someone who has offended others before through teasing and felt guilty about it. Obviously the insulter needs to be more aware of other people's feelings.
Or perhaps you are someone who has been offended by another's teasing before and you felt silly or pathetic for doing so. Obviously the insulted needs to toughen up.
Perhaps you are someone who has never actually experienced or observed teasing before, but still feels that teasing is morally wrong.
(I could go on. There is a wide variety of people in the world.)
So, whom do you think was in the wrong? The teaser or the offended one?
Again, the answer changes depending on whom is answering. Who you are is what determines whom you empathize with.
(Let me quickly make something very clear: the fact that people have differing opinions is NOT what I am trying to get you to understand; I am still leading up to the point I am attempting to make by writing this.)
Let us now return to the self-basis interpretation so that we may apply it to the differing opinions of the teasing situation.
Remember how your answer to the teasing situation depends on who you are? Well, THE REASON IT DOES is because you are using the self-basis interpretation. You are using your life experiences and no one else's to draw a conclusion about the situation.
But what if you could draw a conclusion WITHOUT using yourself as a basis, but rather using someone else as a basis.
Using yourself as a basis for every analysis in your life creates a bias within you. I, myself, am actually trying to train myself to not impulsively use ONLY self-basis interpretation during my human interactions. I still, however, am in a constant struggle with my inclination to ONLY use this kind of analysis, no matter how much I try and train my brain.
It's hard for me to explain all of this to other people, and I'm often not sure if other people realize just how important this is to me.
And the reason it's important to me is, of course, because I am using my life as a basis. I have found that, in my life, many possible mistakes have been avoided by keeping the things written here in mind. In addition, many mistakes that I DID make could have been avoided by doing the same thing.
I try and integrate this mindset of being aware of differences in reason and thought among other people into my everyday life. For example, instead of saying "That is interesting" I say "That is interesting to me". Even something as simple as that helps.
I hope I have been successful in making my point clear. Your level of agreement with what I have attempted to explain here may differ from my own, but as long as you understand the point I was trying to make I consider myself successful. And if you don't understand me, it might just be because you are using self-basis analysis...