“The only people who see the whole picture are the ones who step outside the frame.”
People who know me often hear me say that social awareness is the one area of Social Emotional Learning that we as a society definitely need to work on and it is not just because of recent events. I’ve often said that we need to look at things through another person’s lens in order to fully understand one another’s perspective. British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie’s quote I believe paints a great visual for what social awareness really means: stepping outside the frame in order to see the whole picture.
Imagine for a moment that we were in an actual picture surrounded by a wooden or metal frame. The only perspective we would actually have is what we would see within that picture. It’s viewpoint is limited because we would be unable to see beyond the frame itself. But by allowing ourselves to step outside of that frame, it opens up multiple viewpoints to view that same situation. We are able to really see that big picture.
To further explore this concept have you ever been to an art gallery? If you have you have probably noticed how some people are viewing different pieces of art close up, far away or from an angle. They are looking at the work of art through different perspectives and each perspective may present a different meaning or interpretation to what that person is observing. Through this process the viewer is able to really appreciate the art (the different perspectives) that the artist may have been intentionally trying to emulate.
How often, when you are caught up in a debate with someone, do you hit the pause button and really listen to what the other person is saying (despite your differing opinion)? Probably not very often or definitely not as much as you would like to. Like those that appreciate art and all that it has to offer them why don’t we try and take the time to appreciate and respect one another’s differing viewpoints? We are all different, have different thoughts and ideas but remember one thing: it is because of these differences that makes it us. I’m not saying perspective-taking is easy, it is hard work. But it is worthwhile work. So take the time to really get to know someone. Step outside your own proverbial frame and allow yourself and your social awareness skills grow. It will benefit you and others in the long run.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards becoming more socially aware?