“Every person carries in his head a mental model of the world
—a subjective representation of external reality.”
~Alvin Toffler

Simply put, your worldview is the lens through which you see the world. Everything we encounter – from information to conversations to situations – is filtered through our worldview.

An unexamined worldview is invisible to us because it’s simply our “truth.”

In this module, we will be comparing a worldview to a pair of glasses, and to a filing cabinet that organizes data.

All your past experiences come together to form your worldview. It is made up of literally everything you’ve experienced; all your big and small experiences impact you. Everything you have ever encountered has played a role in shaping how you think, what you believe, and how you perceive the world around you. No two people have the same worldview. Even when we experience something similar, we never experience it exactly the same, because our worldview affects our perceptions.

These are some things that make up your worldview:

  • Your childhood experiences (and there are many!)
  • Your race
  • Your exposure to other races
  • Your exposure to the worldview of others around you
  • Your past educational experiences
  • The attitude towards education in your family of origin
  • Your cultural background and identity
  • The subcultures you are involved in (sports, music, arts, etc)
  • Your family structure growing up: two parents, single parent, blended family, extended family, family friends, foster care, etc…
  • Siblings and birth order, or your experience as an only child
  • Your socioeconomic position (both as a child and as an adult)
  • Your physical health: do/did you struggle with a health issue
  • Your relationship with substances (alcohol or drugs)
  • Your mental health
  • Your experience of death or loss
  • Your experience of trauma
  • Your gender & sex
  • The village, town, or city where you grew up (small town or city, rural or suburb, etc.)
  • The country you live in (now and in the past)
  • Your religious beliefs (both as a child and as an adult)
  • Your political beliefs
  • Your experience with nature
  • All social experiences from an early age to present moment
  • Any experiences of bullying or mistreatment
  • Your experience with food, including food scarcity, or having everything you have ever needed
  • Everything you read, listen to, watch (all forms of media, including the news)
  • Work experience and work ethic
  • And all of your other life experiences!

Consider that each experience in your life has both consciously and unconsciously constructed the way you now see the world. What you believe, and what you perceive, are unique to you, because no one else has shared all of your experiences. We all have reasons—countless reasons—for believing what we believe. Every worldview tells the story of an individual’s unique blend of experiences.


What are some experiences that make up your worldview? (Pick the top 10 that come to your mind)

Most of our very early life experiences are non-decisions, meaning they happen outside the realm of our choice and control. As we age, we begin to have more opportunity for choice and control, and we learn to expand our belief system.

However, since our worldview begins to form very early in life, unless we choose to wrestle with our worldview and ask big questions, we essentially inherit much of our belief system from others around us. When we choose to reflect, question, and explore we can expand our worldview and challenge our assumptions and biases, as well as those that have been passed down to us. Post-secondary educational opportunities really support that exploration.

In this module we will explore the wrestle, the questioning, and the shift  needed to unpack our worldview. From there we will look at the tools we need to challenge our judgements, biases and assumptions.

Shifting our worldview requires us to examine and challenge our strongly held beliefs, while putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

Have you noticed any shifts in your worldview since you started post-secondary? If so, what encouraged these shifts in perception?

When we take a mindful approach to examining our worldview, we can learn to see life, others, and ourselves differently.

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are–or, as we are conditioned to see it.”~ Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change)


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Post-Secondary Peer Support Training Curriculum Copyright © 2022 by Jenn Cusick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book