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Your perception is your reality, not mine

Posted on Monday, August 23, 2010 in Happiness, Honesty, Kat, Men, Relationships, Self image, Women

“That is quite the dress,” I said to Sara, looking stunning in the orange-red gauzy outfit she wore for a backyard get-together a few weeks ago.

“I don’t know. I think it’s too bright,” she said. “What do you think, Sean?”

“Uh, I’m not the one to ask. I’m colorblind.”

“You are?” Sara looked stunned, although I was pretty sure I’d told her that before. “So, what color is this?” she said, grabbing
a blue cocktail napkin
and flashing it before
his face.    

Sean sighed at the familiar exercise; everyone who finds out he’s colorblind wants to play the “color game.” “Look, I can tell you
what I see, but your colors and my colors are different, so what’s the point? We see things differently, that’s all.”

Ah, yes — and isn’t that true about everything?

Haven’t you ever been on a first date that you thought went great, and then you never hear
from him again? I’m guessing he obviously didn’t share your version of reality (although there could be many reasons why he disappeared).

We see the world differently. But it’s not just a guy or gal thing, although, granted, the sexes often see things waaaay different. She thinks the weekend they spent together having sex every which way in every possible location is one step closer to relationship status; he thinks, “Wow, I can’t believe how much sex we had!”

Each of us has different needs and perspectives, and whatever we experience is filtered through that, as well as whatever other distractions are going on in our head at the moment — which is exactly why we can’t see things quite the way other people see things, even though we think we’re seeing or experiencing the same thing.

That’s why when you’re hanging with others and there’s an “incident,”  you’ll have as many versions of “the truth” as people who were there. Whose version is “right” or “real”?

Not to get all Rashomon on you, but wouldn’t they all be?

Makes you question whether “reality” is really real.

It can be frustrating, and sometimes I feel like, “wow, you’re not really understanding what’s going on here.” But maybe I’m not!

That wouldn’t be a problem if we approach each other with an understanding that we’re not all the same. The problem is when we start insisting that out interpretation is better than another’s or it’s the “right” one, or if we judge others for their experiences.

And we do that all the time, sometimes in big, dangerous ways, and other times in tiny ways.

“Ugh, I never want us to be like that couple over there,” I recently said to Sean, jerking my head in the direction of a couple sitting at a restaurant table in silence across from each other, seemingly lost in their own thoughts and joyless in their relationship. “How sad that they have nothing to say to each other!”

“Really?” he said, sounding totally surprised. “I was just thinking how peaceful they look, content in their quiet togetherness.”

And so it goes …

  • Ever had a shared experience with someone whose perception was vastly different than yours?
  • Has someone insisted that your perception of something is “wrong”?

Photo © Christopher Hall – Fotolia.com

Bring on the comments

  1. T
    Twitter: tsquest
    says:

    Ah yes… you’re speaking my language. THIS is why I question myself all the time. This is why I’m more able to give people the benefit of the doubt. This is why, my usual answer to the question, “Would you rather be right or happy?”, is “HAPPY!”

    We’re all right and/or we’re all wrong about everything, aren’t we?

    Did you see Inception? Did you love it? Talk about questioning reality…
    T´s last blog post ..Loving myself on my path

  2. BigLittleWolf
    Twitter: BigLittleWolf
    says:

    Very well put. No one knows what’s really going on inside a relationship except those in the relationship. And, they may not know either. Or rather, one may believe things to be a certain way, while the other doesn’t.

    Yet one more reason to communicate well, and – a rule I learned long ago, for everything – never assume.

    Great post.
    BigLittleWolf´s last blog post ..Mad Men Episode 5- The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

  3. Kat Wilder says:

    Not to get all #Rashomon on you, but aren't there many different realities? Of course, only mine matters… http://katwilder.com/?p=2454

  4. Kat Wilder says:

    T — Yes, I did see “Inception,” as well as his earlier film, “Memento.” Pretty mind-blowing. It is always weird when someone and I experience something so differently; hard not to question your own reality.

    BLW — you know what they say about “assume.” ;-)

  5. BigLittleWolf
    Twitter: BigLittleWolf
    says:

    I love it, Kat! Yes, I know what they say about assume. Remarkable how many people nonetheless forget. . .
    BigLittleWolf´s last blog post ..Mall Walking

  6. vincent says:

    I like working to see things from other people’s point of view. The more I learn, the more I learn there is to learn (so the less I know in some ways)!
    I don’t like bossy know it all attitudes.
    Whether I am right or wrong is usually not important to me. I worry more about being fair and diplomatic, nice and measured.
    My reaction to stuff can be stressful so I try not to react and overreact and take a walk and chill when something stressful is going on.

  7. Tiia Jones
    Twitter: tiiajoneslove
    says:

    Love this quote! “Each of us has different needs and perspectives, and whatever we experience is filtered through that, as well as whatever other distractions are going on in our head at the moment — which is exactly why we can’t see things quite the way other people see things, even though we think we’re seeing or experiencing the same thing.”

    It reminds me of a couple of things. First, the fact that when my two sisters and I discuss the EXACT same event from our childhoods, we have completely different recollections of it. And, of course, we all think that our memory is what REALLY happened! Secondly, I remembered a man I dated a couple of times who wasn’t very nice; in fact he was a real jerk. Then I stopped dating him. Much later, I read in the paper that his daughter was going to DisneyWorld with “Make a Wish” because she was dying of cancer. You just never know.
    Tiia Jones´s last blog post ..Kindergarten Musings