Apr 242012
Cornsweet Illusion by Fibonacci

Many of the changes that we face in life involve people. After all, their choices and our choices create the reality around us. It is therefore important to ensure, as far as possible, that we have good relationships with the people who appear in our lives. This makes it easier for us to achieve our goals and to flow with change.

But before we proceed further, please look at the picture above. What do you see? Is the colour the same shade throughout?

Cornsweet Illusion

The picture is actually an optical illusion. Its colour is indeed the same shade throughout as seen from the picture below. When you cover the middle portion, this becomes clear. You can also achieve this effect by using your hand to cover the middle portion of the picture above.

The Cornsweet Illusion helps me to illustrate a point. Boundaries can create illusions that make people seem different. But when we remove or cover those boundaries, we are actually the same.

Cornsweet Illusion Exposed by Fibonacci

Boundaries: A Doubled-Edged Sword

Many kinds of boundaries divide people in this world. Some of these include race, nations and religious beliefs. On a more personal level, there are interests, likes and dislikes. Our experiences, views and beliefs give us our unique identities. They make us who we are. But the world can be a lonely place without like-minded people who understand us. Thus, it is natural and comforting to want to join with people who are similar to us. And with the spread of social media like Facebook today, it is very easy to do so.

While we bond with people who are similar, we may be less welcoming to those who are different. We may have prejudice against perceived outsiders. Some boundaries are necessary to maintain a certain sense of order in the world today. Others, like where we are born, we have no control over. Here, that which is necessary can also go too far.

Instead of order and harmony, boundaries can cause violence and disharmony. Instead of pooling our strengths and resources to achieve great things, we may use them against “others” who are different from us. The result is war and many of the ills that plague countries in the world. On a more personal level, it may create needless obstacles in our way. Our attitude towards people who are different may make it hard for us to work well with them.

Boundaries are Created

I grew up seeing people of different races live harmoniously in the same place. I went to school with all kinds of kids as well. It would have been easy for me to assume that such was the norm around the world. Thankfully, my love for history and world affairs made me realize that such harmony is not a given in life. Instead, this peace and harmony is the result of careful nurturing. If so, then the type of boundaries we have, and what we choose to focus on makes a big difference.

The Illusion of Boundaries

Human beings are a paradox. We are different due to our experiences, influences, likes and dislikes and so on. All of these things make us unique. Yet, if we look at the big picture, we are not that different. If we observe ourselves from another angle, we have many similarities as well.

In truth, boundaries are an illusion. We have more in common than we realize. It is a matter of what we choose to perceive. Instead of focusing on differences, we can notice similarities. For example, no matter our culture or race, we all have loved ones. We all know pain and sorrow, joy and happiness. We all experience fear and loss. We all have to deal with adversity at some point or other. No one can escape the human condition even if his or her circumstances are different.

Working Together by Lollyman

Common Ground

Perception is everything. How we perceive things determines our success or failure. It can make things easy or difficult for us.

For instance, seeing other people as rivals can make it hard for us to manage challenges and change. Instead, this view creates boundaries that divide when we should unite. At critical moments, it may end up causing needless problems for us.

It is far better to have people on our side than to have them against us. To do so, we must emphasize our similarities and reduce our differences. Wherever it is possible, we must try to find common ground. Here, it pays to listen carefully without prejudice. The key is to empathize with and understand their point of view. This will enable us to meet them halfway wherever possible.

We cannot build trust in an instant. But if we focus on the little things and pay attention to detail, we can have small successes. This will go a long way in creating bonds that will help us to undertake bigger things in the future.

By taking a balanced and flexible view of the situation, we can achieve harmony with others. This will help us to manage any changes that happen in life.

Taking Action

Are there boundaries in your life that alienate you from others? Have your prejudices and assumptions made it hard for you to resolve the issues you face? How did you manage the situation? Have you ever connected with people by focusing on common ground? How has this helped you to manage challenges with them? What are some of the ways you can think of to find common ground with others? Do share your thoughts and comments below! :)

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  14 Responses to “Common Ground and the Illusion of Boundaries”

  1. Hi Irving,

    I noticed that after recognizing that I was having “empathic issues” (meaning, that I was one!) a lot of these concerns went away. I became more focused on controlling my own energy and what I let in, and then I didn’t need to “keep others out.” That makes it much easier to let everyone else just be who they are – a much more peaceful way to live!
    Julie | A Clear Sign recently posted..Tools To Move You Forward In Seeing and Meeting Your Spirit GuidesMy Profile

    • Hi Julie,

      Managing our perceptions and responses is a great way to improve our relationships with others.

      If we do not impose certain expectations on them, they are free to act naturally. This is indeed the best way to live!

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  2. Vizier – yes, we all do have a lot of boundaries in our minds. I wonder if our boundaries are same as our limiting beliefs about ourselves and others?

    I work with people everyday to overcome their differences and to achieve common goals. There are things that really matter in the world that we can get people to rally around – things that matter in their lives – work, family, the environment, social justice etc. Why harp on our differences when we can change the world together. The way we get there is to set aside petty differences and rally around issues that really matter.

    When the issue really matters, boundaries disappear, people come together and work for common goals.

    • Hi Vishnu,

      I believe that boundaries can be the same as limiting beliefs. In this case we direct our boundaries inwards and limit ourselves.

      Yes I agree with you. Instead of squabbling over things that don’t really matter, we should gather together to preserve the things that truly matter.

      Too much of our energy is wasted on unimportant things or fighting each other.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  3. Hello Irving – Wonderful post and very insightful my friend!

    I love this statement and I will post this on my Facebook – Perception is everything. How we perceive things determines our success or failure. It can make things easy or difficult for us.

    Perception is our reality – when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

    You ask many questions but I go back to what I know best – LOVE!

    In love and light,

    • Hi Nancy,

      Indeed perception is everything. Once we realize this, the way we view the world will change and we can make better choices in our lives.

      It is true. Love is a great way to dissolve the boundaries that separate people.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  4. This is an interesting topic for me because the issue of boundaries has been a significant one in my life. On one hand, boundaries are seen as essential for good mental and emotional health, as in not making someone else responsible for your happiness. I had poor boundaries for a long time, which caused me all sorts of relationship problems. Learning about good boundaries made me much happier. As I said once, boundaries are my friend!

    On the other hand, boundaries can be used to separate us in ways that do not lead to happiness, as you describe.

    So I’m puzzling over this word that can be so healthy in one context and so damaging in another. Hmmmm.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Falling AwayMy Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      Yes boundaries are necessary in life as you say. No boundaries and our mental and emotional health will suffer. But too much boundaries and the world suffers.

      The key is balance. We need to know where to draw the line and to consider the bigger picture and the greater good as well.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  5. Hi Irving.. Actually, there are a lot of things that act as boundary for our life in any other things.. And for sure, this can be a great help for us..
    Nicca recently posted..Online Job StoriesMy Profile

    • Hi Nicca,

      Boundaries are necessary for a good life. Otherwise, we will be overwhelmed.

      But here we must be careful not to go too far with boundaries.

      The key is balance.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  6. I used to use boundaries as judgment, and i’d be so judgmental of people. it was for the worse. with my depression, i learnt to uplift these boundaries and stop judging people…
    Noch Noch
    Noch Noch | be me. be natural. recently posted..for me the bells toll – taking a break, getting marriedMy Profile

    • Hi Noch Noch,

      It is not easy to change our habits.

      I am glad that you managed to empathize with people and learned to see things from their point of view.

      This will also go a long way in helping you to find inner peace.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  7. that was such an interesting post
    thank you Vizier :)

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