A Look At Perception, Perspective, Reality, and Getting It All Wrong
A couple of weeks ago, I had the experience of encountering “that” woman. You know her. She’s the one who walks up to the pharmacist / receptionist / cashier and, to her great surprise, is told that she has to wait longer than expected for her prescription / appointment / purchase. She repeats the length of time that she has to wait, loudly enough for anyone within 20 feet to hear, and then follows it with a visible eye roll and an audible, irritated sigh targeted at the individual who directly, or indirectly, has caused her this inconvenience. How many of us have met “that” woman?
Your perception of “that” woman, may be along the lines of “Whoa! What a *&^%$!”. Maybe you might be thinking that “that” woman is only concerned with the fact that she has been made to wait, or has been inconvenienced in some way. Your perception, from your perspective, to you may seem to be accurate. You see her annoyance with a seemingly innocent service person; she’s ticked off and she doesn’t care who knows it! However, from “that” woman’s perspective, there may have been a million other things that had gone wrong for her that day. She may have called the prescription in hours before, her appointment may have been made months in advance, or she may be in a rush and just doesn’t have the time to wait. Her perspective may contain a lot of hidden realities for her, most of which no one would be privy to unless she told them. Perceptions vary with perspective. Perspective is determined by realities.
First impressions are lasting impressions. You may have heard that phrase before. A role model in your life may have taught you to “make a good first impression” as he or she cheered you on through life’s journeys. True, first impressions do count. They often do determine whether you get the chance to make a second impression. But, first impressions can get tangled up in perceptions, perspectives, and realities as well. A person’s perspective, where one is coming from, often determines how a person sizes up a situation and forms a judgment. Not all judgments are bad. We judge situations so that we can gauge our reaction to them and plan our next steps. Judgments can be negative as well. Sometimes judgments, like first impressions, are hard to change. They stick with us and may even find themselves becoming a reality whether they hold true or not.
I know that many of my first impressions have been wrong in the past, and that many of my future ones may be as well. My perception of a person or situation may be entirely based on how I see things through my own eyes (my own perspective). My brain’s interpretation of an event may be completely opposite of what is intended (someone else’s perspective), or even of what is reality. The person or event in question will be acting from their own personal perspective, not mine. The reality may be entirely different from what I think.
One of my favourite catch phrases is “It is what it is.” But, to be honest, I’ve had to really reconsider that statement. It is what it might be to me, but is it that to everyone else? The world is not black and white; there are many, many shades of gray. I can’t rely solely on my own perception, perspective, and version of reality to determine that it is the same for everybody.
Many things are subjective to the person who interprets them. I have to ask questions to clarify meaning and my own understanding when I don’t understand. If I’m confused, I must confess that I am and seek clarification. If I just don’t “get it”, I should freely admit it but also be a willing student. I will then give someone else the opportunity to explain, and even to re-evaluate, his or her own perceptions and perspectives if they find it necessary.
We teach our children that it is good to ask questions. In the classroom, we encourage them to take risks in their learning process and that it’s ok to be wrong. We need to remember that as adults as well. Yes, our thinking may not always be clear. We may not completely understand everything, and that’s fine . We will get it wrong (oh yes, we will!), and that’s ok too. We can learn and grow from our mistakes and our judgments, but through acknowledging our own misconceptions we can gain new insights into new realms of thinking. We can learn to see others’ perspectives and what their reality is.
So, what’s the moral of the story? How did “that” woman fare out? Well, she was still annoyed, but she realized that while she had been inconvenienced, she was only seeing things through her own eyes. She considered that her personal perceptions were placing judgments on the situation, she realized her perspective was only in relation to her own reality, and she figured out that she had gotten it all wrong: It is what you make it, not what it’s expected or suspected to be.
And… in case you haven’t already guessed it, two weeks ago, “that” woman was me.
Happy Blog Day, dear readers! Once again, I must thank you all for your comments, replies, and likes on Be – YOU – tiful and my facebook page, Writing For The Love of It. As always, thank you for taking the time to read me! ~K~