In NLP, they have what they call multiple descriptions. These are the three distinct vantage points that are accessible to any individual, not unlike the first, second and third person modes or perspectives utilized in narration. In the first position, you experience an event through yourself. In the second position, you are empathizing with another person, walking a mile in their shoes. In the third position, you experience it all from a detached, impersonal, observer perspective that has no stake in the outcome.
People often get stuck in one position. When ensnared in the first position, one is controlling, egotistical, narcissistic, even psychopathic. Imprisonment in the second position leads one to place others before themselves: they become pushovers, martyrs. In the third position, one is a passive observer in, a detached witness to life rather than an active participant.
Rather than being stuck in a single position one might shift between them uncontrollably or even have two or three positions afflicting them at once.
I constantly find myself looking at myself as if from a third person perspective, from some external, objective viewpoint, often while I am simultaneously bound in the first person perspective. I recognize this as dissociation. It feels as though that third person mode is always there, always lingering, so perhaps that is why I so often have the feeling of being watched, being observed, even when I am alone.
I also get stuck in the second position, constantly and involuntarily putting myself in other’s shoes, seeing the world as it may be through their eyes, feeling what they feel, even thinking what they may be thinking. When I get the second and third positions at once, it adds up to something akin to an “omniscient” third person perspective — where, in writing, the narrator weaves in and out of the minds and senses of various characters. In practice, it leads to anxiety, to overload and worse and I need isolation to process and find my center again.
Thankfully, NLP offers a means by which one can allegedly learn to shift positions more or less at will. First, you calibrate the target, which is to say you become aware of verbal and nonverbal cues, and then you use the technique of “pacing” in which you strategically mirror those nonverbal cues in some way.
When this is used to access the first position, it is known as congruence; when used to access the second person, it is known as rapport. After establishing rapport or congruence through pacing, you can then use the technique of “leading” to move the target into new territory.
Its worth toying with…