We are always telling stories

I find that this topic has come up a lot in recent facilitator training at Athena Herd Foundation. When we are observing the world around us how often do we perceive it as it is? More often we see it within a framework that is superimposed by our minds.

I find myself reminded of this classic psychological experiment dating back to 1944. The video attached below is a copy of the film created by Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel in "An Experimental Study of Apparent Behaviour"

When the watch - what do you see?

The film is no more than some geometric shapes moving randomly around a plain background. But how many of us perceive something deeper? How many of us create some kind of heroic narrative?

Its OK folks. Quite simply, it is what we do. The issue here is not that we see a heroic underdog embodied in a random shape, but more that it is our unconscious mind's compelling drive to make sense. We take what we see and extrapolate.

When we are training facilitators this a familiar theme at the start the journey. I remember my own. Our stories and personal perceptions often frame our interpretation. They shape how we perceive what happens before us and therein lies the challenge.

The aim is to develop clean observation as a core skill, seeing without interpretation, feeding back without feeding off of our own narrative. This is a resource that we need to cultivate as we develop as facilitators. But lets face it, it is a very difficult one.

We need to learn to see our interpretation at work as it offers its opinion, acknowledge it, and then quietly let it go. Bringing ourselves back to clean, non judgemental observation. Offering our clients no more than that which we saw before us.

Allowing them to frame the experience. Letting them construct the narrative.


Well, step one is recognise the tendency to impose interpretation. Step two is engaging with it and letting it go. Step three: practice step two, lots!! 


Click here for a copy of the original full article and finding

Fritz Heider: An Experimental Study of Apparent Behavior (all-about-psychology.com)


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