It is amazing how the same thing can mean different things to different people. 5 minutes are 5 minutes, right? Wrong. 5 minutes waiting in a queue at the bank are different than 5 minutes stuck between floors in an elevator. 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test indicating that it is positive can be the best news a couple receives while the same 2 lines spell out disaster and a nightmare of a situation for another couple. A party full of new faces is exciting to the extroverts among us and the same party is a dreaded occasion for the more introverted types. Two people can be sitting on a bench looking at the big blue sea. One feels a sense of peace and optimism watching the waves hit the shore, while the other, physically seeing the exact same thing, feels a sense of anxiety and sorrow as he remembers his neighbour’s son who drowned 3 years ago.
Did you ever stop to wonder how much your own perception affects your “reality”? We are all effectively looking at the world and our realties through our own set of glasses and often we find it surprising, even disappointing, when others fail to see what we believe to be plain obvious. But if we ask ourselves if this particular situation is in fact “obvious” because of the way we are looking at it, or is it a black-or-white kind of situation? Speaking of colours… Green and blue. I see it as green and so it must be green. But what if someone else thinks (and truly believes) it is blue? Does this make them wrong and you right? What about colour blindness? (not that I know any colour blind people, ssshhhh). They are not trying to be argumentative, this is what they see – plain and simple.
This got me thinking about the many different ways our perception of the world can be skewed. We each have a story. We are a culmination of all the experiences we have personally been through in our lives which shape the way we see things. Being objective is near impossible when you consider all the emotional factors involved in forming an opinion, making a decision or reacting to a particular situation. So the next obvious question is: how do we deal with this? I think it starts by taking a good look in the mirror and being completely honest with ourselves. I’ll admit, it’s much easier to judge others than to question our true motives, which takes a lot of courage. Asking ourselves why we are seeing something the way we are; is it because I was betrayed once that I assume everyone is a liar? Is it because a dog bit me when I was five that I think all dogs are out to get me? It sounds simpler than it is, but it’s a journey worth taking. Listening comes next. And I mean really listening, not listening while preparing an answer in our head, or listening to look for faults in the other persons’ reasoning and argument. I mean listening to understand, listening with an open mind and an open heart. I can only imagine how much better our world would become if we do that…
Maybe we could start with the very next conversation we have with someone… let’s see how that goes, shall we?