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Aug 23

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 –