Perceptual Positions and the Meta Mirror

Apologies, these notes are a little sloppy. I’m a bit crunched for time today. Today, I’m sharing my notes on perceptual positions and the meta mirror. Our perspective defines our experience. Learning to view situations from many perspectives builds empathy, regulates emotional response, and this is incredibly important.

In the first perceptual position, you see things through your own eyes. You live it like it was actually happening to you. In the second position, you see the situation, and yourself, through someone else’s eyes. The third perceptual position is an objective viewpoint. It’s like you are a fly on the wall.

Stepping out of our own experience, and into a dissociated position helps to minimize destructive emotions. Seeing something from another perspective broadens our own perspective on life experiences. Empathy is walking in another person’s shoes, so these perceptual position exercises can help develop empathy.

We’re often stuck in our own perceptual position. When we are in a difficult state, trying to view things from a different viewpoint can be insanely beneficial.

The challenge is to become aware visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically of how you experience the situation. You can’t know what might be true for another person. Therefore, focus on state over what is happening in the situation. Identify the problem state.

Take ownership because empowerment comes via responsibility. Then, say it in your own words. This exercise will help you to have clarity on the root of the problem.

Dissociate from yourself. Then walk around and behind the other person, and step inside them in your mind’s. Look at yourself through their eyes. This is the second perceptual position.

Do you still feel the problem state from this position? What do you want now?  Experience yourself from this position. Keeping it simple, use just one word to describe this new perspective.

Now, step out of that second position, and walk about 20 paces away. Look at the situation again without the emotional connection. If you still feel that emotional connection, keep stepping back until it goes away. You should be like a bystander. This should be a place of objectivity. Now, describe in as few words as possible what’s happening.

From the objective position, re-associate with the first perceptual position. Step back into your own experience, and your own perceptual position, bringing back with you the lessons you learned.

If the issue was anxiety, where is the anxiety now on a scale of 100? Audit the problem state to see if it is still a problem for you. You can repeat this exercise until you experience a significant drop, and disturbing state is manageable. Be sure to write down or note any insights you gain.

This exercise shifts your focus, and that causes the negative state to melt away. Dissociation, and considering different perspectives broadens our own perspective. This is a fantastic way to emotionally self-regulate, and it helps to develop empathy.

This is a powerful way to improve the quality of our relationships because we can use our insights to improve and adapt our communication. Better understanding and objectivity helps us to think more flexibly and creatively.

By taking on different viewpoints, we understand the impact of our verbal and nonverbal behaviour.  A broader understanding of your own presence in a situation, and how you show up for others is going to give you a lot of insight. This exercise helps us both review, and prepare for, interactions.

The Meta Mirror model also helps us to understand an experience from various perceptual positions. However, in this model, we specifically ask questions about how we are showing up in the situation, and we imagine how others are experiencing both us and the situation.

With the Meta Mirror, we ask ourselves the following questions from each of the first second and third perceptual positions:

  • How am I behaving?
  • How am I feeling?
  • How do I perceive the situation?
  • What is important to me?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • Has my perception changed?

It’s crucial that I take responsibility for my own behaviour, feelings, perceptions, goals, learning and growth. Emotional disturbance is not having my needs or wants met. Self-evaluation helps me determine what those needs or wants are, and what might be some obstacles stopping me from meeting them.

After this critical self-evaluation if I’m still disturbed, I can move to the second position. I cannot know what is true for another person. However, I can use immediacy, and after the fact, try to piece together what another person might be thinking or feeling.

Finally, I will shift out of the 2nd perceptual position, and move into the 3rd perceptual position. In the third perceptual position, when I ask the questions again, I need to have a willingness to consider another person’s point of view.

Doing this can lead to massive shifts in my perception and thinking. I know that patience is more important than smarts when I’m eliciting my own breakthroughs.

What’s the worst case scenario? Use a few simple words to lay it out. Often we stress about things that are no big deal. Look for those trigger words: have to, should, need to, must, can’t – these words indicate prohibitions and rules I’ve put on myself that may or may not be useful or valid.

Getting clarity is supremely important. We can bring about a change in state fairly easily. However, exploring additional perceptual positions helps us to solidify and expand our perspective.

Most problems have a relational component. It’s important not to get stuck in our own perspective. Empowerment comes from responsibility. You can only ever be responsible for yourself. You are not responsible for the choices others make.

It’s important to see beyond the masks that we wear. I wear a mask to impress others, and all it does is hide who I am. I wind up doing the opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish.

I must be willing to consider other people.

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