Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are–or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. Sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.
This does not mean there are no facts… but each person’s interpretation of these facts represents prior experiences, and the facts have no meaning whatsoever apart from the interpretation.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
One of the things I learned from life [which was presented more formally through the Landmark Forum] was that it is nothing but a bunch of intertwined personal interpretations.
My mother yells at me. My trainer makes a mistake. We don’t agree on something.
Fact: They don’t mean anything.
But, oh, we LOVE adding meaning to all these things around us. Mother yelling at you could be interpreted as “I am a disgrace to my family” or “She only loves my brother.” A subordinate making a mistake could be interpreted as “He’s a dumbass” or “OMG, can’t she do anything right?!” Us not agreeing on something could lead me to think you’re stupid, or lead you to think I’M stupid.
These interpretations incapacitate us from making sound decisions. It helps to try to breathe deeply, look at how THE OTHER PERSON interprets the situation, and try to understand it before you react.