The Important Difference Between Clarity and Perspective


January, 2017

I spent some time this weekend reading some non-medical related writings.  Two different authors used the same analogy that without clarity about the situation you are in, making correct decisions or judgements about what actions to take will be challenging.  The more information you have on any situation the better you feel about making good choices.

Both authors used the analogy that you need to be able to see clearly with your eyes to accurately know what you are looking at to make their point.  One author, who does a lot of public speaking, even gave an example of not realizing that his eyesight was slowly getting worse to the point that he couldn’t read his notes well as he spoke.  His “symptom” was feeling as if his speaking quality was bad.  He was less engaging as a speaker and seemed to lose his place or train of thought.  He thought he was going senile until he realized that he literally couldn’t read his notes well.  Once he broke down and started using his reading glasses his speaking improved.  His comment was that the energy he was using to focus his eyes was causing his brain to freeze.  He was working so hard to see that he couldn’t think.  I like the analogy a lot.  In my line of work, because I am looking for it I see this play out on a daily basis.  There are some people who can’t utilize their visual system well and it does have an impact on other “symptoms”.  However, I think we need to take this thought a little further and dissect the difference between seeing clearly and having proper perspective.

Clarity refers to the quality of the object you are referencing.  One definition describes clarity as the quality of being easy to see or hear; sharpness, or amount of focus, of image or sound.  Something with high amounts of clarity is easy to see, or has high levels of focus or crispness of sound.  This is an important quality for our brain to interpret information coming into it.  If the clarity of the object we are looking at or the sound we are hearing isn’t good enough our ability to accurately use that information to make decisions will be challenged.  When you see your optometrist they make sure your clarity of sight is good (20/20 is the goal).  Which is better one or two?  Two or three?  Three or four? You know the deal.  As the eye doctor challenges your clarity with a lens you make a decision and tell them if it’s easier or harder for you to understand what the object is in front of you.  In turn they prescribe for you the lens that makes it is the easiest for you to see clearly.  They give you what you want.  This is important, but is it everything?

The question then becomes just because you can see with clarity is your perspective of what you are looking at accurate?  Perspective can be defined as:

  1. The state of existing in space before the eye: (for example: “The elevations look all right, but the building’s composition is a failure in perspective.”) -or-
  2. The state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship: (for example: “You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective.”) –or-
  3. The faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship: (for example: “Your data is admirably detailed but it lacks perspective.”) –Among others

(definitions taken from the great source of information  Emphasis mine).

So the concept of perspective takes the details or facts that are known, at whatever level of clarity we have, and places it in space or in a meaningful interrelationship with other known points or facts.  In fact, the example given after the third definition even contrasts the level of detail (or clarity) with the ability to make meaningful interpretations of it (perspective).  So clarity and perspective can be related but are not necessarily directly linked.  Sometimes the level of focus or detail is so great that the ability to make meaningful connections and interrelationships becomes challenging.  [ctt_hbox link=”4U3ce” via=”no” ]Too much clarity, or focus, can disrupt our perspective and therefore our decisions.[/ctt_hbox] In our culture we have idioms that tell us not to get lost in the forest for the trees, or take a step back and look at the bigger picture.  Not to be taken literally, but to be taken figuratively to let go of the detail or clarity to get a better perspective.

“Sometimes the level of focus or detail is so great that the ability to make meaningful connections and interrelationships becomes challenging.  Too much clarity, or focus, can disrupt our perspective and therefore our decisions.  ”

So what does this have to do with the human body?  I want to take the analogy used in my readings from this weekend and flip it around a little bit.  If someone has a challenging time making proper decisions on which muscles or teams of muscles to use to perform certain tasks they will often be challenged to do those activities without strain, pain or imbalance. [ctt template=”9″ link=”V4c3O” via=”yes” ]The start of any movement task relies on a basic understanding of knowing where your body is positioned in space. @PRIMEngagement[/ctt]

The baseline of activity you need to assume and maintain any start position is set by the perspective you have of where you are relative to the ground, gravity and other things around you. Therefore, your ability to have proper perspective on where you are at is more important for performing any movement task than the actual detail or clarity of that particular task.  For a lot of people who struggle to get better, or are referred to our PRIME program, at the heart of their issues is an improper perspective on where they are.  They may be able to perform well with an activity and provide all the detail or clarity needed to do it but they do it from an improper perspective and the results or outcomes are poor.  I think this is evident in interpersonal relationships, societal struggles, decision making, and definitely in movement related tasks.   Clarity is important, but without proper perspective, outcomes will be challenged.  Our PRIME program uses input from your visual system, and other sensory systems, to help you regain a proper perspective on where you are to allow better decisions for movement related tasks to be done efficiently.

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