Relationships are complex and fun. They take work, attention, time, patience and a positive view. By “positive view” I am not referring to optimism; instead, I want to uncover a super important concept that will change how you act, react, and see the people around you. The view that you have of another person is referred to as your “dominant view” of him or her. This lens is absolutely significant in determining how you will respond. Our interpretation of another human’s behaviors, character, and intentions make up our dominant view.

Now, it is perhaps the most important part of this article that dominant view is a subjective, lens that is completely constructed and malleable. Every single human creates a dominant view of the people around him or her. The dominant views that we construct are based on a number of factors.

Factors that contribute to the construction of Dominant View:

• Your history
• Your mood and stress level
• Personality (yours and theirs)
• Your relationship
• His or her behavior

History contributes to how we view the world. It is a worthy mission to consider how you were taught to view the world from your primary caregivers growing up. Were you exposed to adults who were highly critical and judgmental of those around them? This blanketed negativity is learned and over time seems to be contagious unless a conscious effort is taken to operate differently. If we experience the world as mainly safe and filled with opportunity and people are mainly good, we will tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. We will lean positively and experience negativity as the exception rather than the rule.

Mood is the next key component of how we view others. To clarify, not his or her mood, but rather – yours. How we are feeling along with our level of irritability, impacts our reactivity as well as how we see those around us. If we are stressed out from work and carry this into our home life, as unfair as it seems (and it is), our dominant view of our children is shaped by our own stress level. What an injustice that our lens of our children, spouse or any people close to us turns negative because of environmental stressors that impact our mood.

Personality

The factor of personality will likely not be a surprise. Now, to clarify, it is not your individual personality that dictates how you construct dominant views. Rather, it is the interplay between your personality and the personality of those around you. Your interpretation of people that are very different from you may lead to a more negative dominant view of them. A mediating element here would be your capacity for empathy. If you are able to be compassionate and be empathic, the dominant views that we construct are likely done with more awareness and forgiveness.

Our relationship with another person also influences our dominant view. Specifically, how intimate is our connection to the person? What is the duration of your relationship? Be careful in how you interpret these relationship questions. It would not be accurate to assume that the longer and more intimate the relationship, the more accurate and positive the dominant view. As a mental health provider, I have worked with relationships that have endured many years and even many traumas, which has led to toxicity and highly negative dominant views.

Perhaps the partner in this relationship has felt disregarded, unheard, unprotected or ignored. This experience would certainly lead to a dominant view of his or her partner as neglectful and to complicate things further, the dominant view of him or herself as unlovable or unworthy.

The most obvious factor is that our dominant view of another person is his or her behavior. As primary as this factor may seem, I dare you to embrace the idea that it is not the only factor. It contributes but does not completely dictate your view. By believing this factor to be the only factor, we fall into the trap of blaming others for OUR view of them. We have the power and control to choose our views of ourselves, others and the world around us.

Our interpretations lead to a dominant view. Again, we are in control of how we conceptualize how we see others AND how we react to that interpretation. Here is a list of how we have the power to frame.

Negative Dominant View:

  • Misbehaving or hyper
  • Impulsive
  • Victim
  • Anxious
  • High strung
  • Neglectful
  • Insensitive

Positive Dominant View:

  • Spirited
  • Quick thinking
  • Resilient/Survivor
  • Alert
  • Responsible
  • Distracted
  • Still learning to connect

In conclusion, far and above, the most important key element of the dominant view is to be keenly aware to what that view is. Awareness is key! Quite simply this means to take a close and honest look at how we see those people around us. When we are tuned into the dominant view, we are more able to check its accuracy and adjust as necessary. Our dominant views should be regularly checked. Like relationships, dominant views should be dynamic (not stagnant).

Connect with Perspectives Therapy Services if you want to explore further.

Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland and Fenton, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Additionally, we offer psychiatric care in the form of evaluations and medication management. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.