Interpretations, perceptions.

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.

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3 comments
  1. This is very true. It is something I realised when I read a book about history- Rethinking History by Keith Jenkins.

    I don’t think it is possible to be objective at all.

    And yes, it is so easy to assign meaning to anything and everything even when the comment/action/question/answer etc. may be completely innocent.

  2. Rach said:

    Thank you for reading it.

    Sometimes, we need people to remind us of how we are reacting towards other people or whatever situation we’re in, and these reactions ruin relationships and burn bridges.

    Yes, it’s not possible to be 100% objective, but it IS possible to understand why people react as such. [It just takes a lot of effort at first.]

    Understanding others is already a huge step towards self-improvement.

    I visited your blog, BTW. Thumbs up. 🙂

  3. I know what you mean. I had a really rocky relationship with my mom for exactly this reason- we just misunderstood or rather mis-perceived everything we said/ did. Fortunately, we spoke about it and sorted things out.

    Yes, understanding others is a huge step towards self-improvement. As I look around me and see how people behave and act, I realise how much I behave like that. Its like looking at myself from another person’s point of view. At times, it is scary.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. 🙂

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