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A Taylor’d Approach

A way to view the world

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How often do we consider how differently we all view the world? Our views aren’t only formed by our own life experiences, but by the way our brains work at a fundamental level. They work so differently, and yet we tend to assume they all work the same.

A good friend recently asked me if I think in visuals or narratives. When I’m prompted for a thought, do I see an image in my mind or hear the thought instead? It took a bit of consideration for me to come up with my answer, as it feels odd to think about how I’m thinking. I ended up concluding that when I’m speaking with someone or reading, I think in visuals, but when I’m focusing on something visual, I think more in narration. 

My friend’s answer was very different. She explained that she thinks in neither way; she can’t describe the way her thoughts manifest, choosing the word “nothing.” I’ve known this friend for a very long time, and she’s an incredibly intelligent and capable individual, always at the top of her class back in school and already nearing the top of her career. And yet she describes her thought process as “nothing,” no obvious way to translate it to those outside her head. 

I asked her if she still enjoys reading fiction books if she doesn’t get a visual in her head. My sister and I have both been big readers all our lives, but we get vivid worlds built in our minds when we read, almost like watching a movie. My friend doesn’t get a world in her head when she reads, but she explained it doesn’t make books boring at all, that she still “somehow,” (her word), processes the information and enjoys the story. 

Psychology as a science is still quite new, and there’s a lot we still don’t understand about the mind. Our brains all work so differently, and explaining a way of thinking that another doesn’t possess is almost impossible. 

I also learned recently that should you tell someone, “Picture an apple,” there’s a vast spectrum of results between individuals. I can see a detailed apple in my mind, change its color and shape easily, see pock marks and imperfections in its skin, and therefore I assumed everyone could. Yet I found out some people can’t picture an apple at all. They can obviously identify apples out in the world, and yet the information of what an apple is, is stored in their brain in a non-visual way that I can’t understand, and that they can’t fully explain.

There are so many unique ways to view the world, and so many can’t quite be put into words. When we encounter someone who looks at things very differently than we do, even someone from a similar background with similar life experiences, it may just be that their brain works in a completely different way than our own. It’s easy to assume everyone thinks the same way, as we all only know one way to think. But try asking those around you, even those you’ve known for a long time, how thoughts manifest for them? If they see worlds when they read? If they’ve ever daydreamed? It might open your eyes to and bring a new understanding of the differences between us.  

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