We see things as we are

by Paul Goodchild on March 13, 2010

Saxophone Illusion

Right before I left for my volunteer-travel bonanza I was bought an iPod nano and had inscribed onto the back of it the following quote:

We see things not as they are. We see them as we are.

I discussed the issue of ‘traveller versus the backpacker’ and as with many beliefs it falls under the scope of the quote above. In this article I will discuss a little about how our prejudices and our beliefs significantly influence our experience of the world and how we treat other people in it.

Traveller versus Backpacker

There seems to be an opinion among many “travellers” and volunteers that backpackers and tourists are rubbish.

Everybody has their opinions on the best way to travel and almost no single opinion is the same. Taking into consideration the above quote, if you hold the belief that a certain group of people are rubbish, for whatever reason, then you need to seriously examine your motives.

Why does holding a derogatory belief about a group of people help you feel better about the choices you make in your life?

Tokyo: where are all the good men?

A problem I’ve seen faced by western women living in Tokyo – where on earth are all the good men?

Well it’s like this… put your hand up if all 3 of the following statements are true:

  1. you’re a foreign woman living in Japan;
  2. you believe that western men come to Japan solely to get laid with beautiful Japanese women;
  3. you’re single.

If you said yes to 1 and 2, then 3 was probably a given.

When #2 is typical of your opinion towards men, you will have no respect for them when you meet. With this prejudice you might ignore them before even talking to them, or even be aggressive towards them. Whichever way, they’re probably not going to enjoy your company much.

This way you can expect to find it difficult to meet men and retain them. Of course, I’m not saying that if you’re single then you hold this belief, or that if you hold this belief then you must be single. I’m simply relaying a trend I’ve spotted 🙂

Whether you like to admit it or not, your opinions, prejudices and beliefs significantly shape and determine your experience and your day-to-day reality.

Thailand women

There is an overriding opinion held by western men that Thai women are money-grabbing whores.

There it is in black and white, and it’s not pleasant.

Sex tourism is big business in Thailand and the reputation Thai women have doesn’t spring from nowhere. When men meet Thai women, holding the belief that they’re simply there for your money, we massively disrespect them from the outset. We see in them our worst fears realised and usually manifest the very thing we believe we’re seeing.

This latest trip has been by far the most educational for me in terms of South East Asian culture. I’ve met many Thai women, and men, and I’ve garnered something from almost every encounter. At the time some have been less fun than others, but each has taught me something about myself and what I want, and sometimes warning signs to look for.

Better to have a previous experience to compare to, than a prejudice that is passed on from one traveller to the next.

Overwhelmingly, the women I have met here have been lovely – they are friendly, generous, affectionate and kind. There was the odd crazy one, but the experience there were interesting “rabbit holes” and I wouldn’t change the experiences for anything.

Your reality = Your thoughts

The thoughts that you have everyday arise from, and form, your beliefs. Repeating certain thoughts enough will embed them into your set of values and you will see the world as you believe it to be.

When you become aware of negative prejudices about someone or a group of people, try to challenge your thoughts and attempt to determine how they originally formed.  Imagine how your experience would be different if you didn’t hold that particular belief.

Imagine for example you wear glasses with a blue hue, and I wear glasses with green. When I tell you the world looks green you’re not going to believe me. It doesn’t mean the world is blue, or the world is green, it’s just what we believe it to be.

Simply trying on another pair of glasses may provide a view on life you’ve never seen, and lead you to new and interesting places you haven’t been yet.

Please feel free to add your comments, and even better, share this post with other people you know using the links provided below. You may also find related and similar posts in the ‘Related Posts’ section, also found below. Thank you!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe March 13, 2010 at 09:36

Nice post, Paul. I wonder where you got that quote from because it sounds right out of my favourite books of all time, “bonds that make us free”, “leadership and self-deception” and “the anatomy of peace”. Take care and enjoy your travels.


Paul Goodchild March 13, 2010 at 09:40

I believe the quotation is ‘Anaïs Nin’: http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Anais_Nin/

Thanks for the well wishes! Travelling is awesome… I hope Tokyo life is treating you very well dude! Take care =)


Chloe March 14, 2010 at 15:43

Reminds me of the conversation we had in that Vietnameese restaurant! Very true! You forget to add that, like in Japan, western women in Thailand automatically dispise western men.. which is a pity, because you’re not aaaall old, fat, lonely sex tourists!
Love you Pee Paul, hope to see you in Mae Sot (you need to go, I need a babysitter!) or wherever we happen to be!


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