The Power of Perception
WE ALL HAVE OUR WORLD VIEWS…religion, politics, but also little world views or perceptions-realities that seem very real to us: who does more housework or childcare, whose fault it is when some silly thing goes wrong. I recently learned how powerful those perceptions can be when listening to some neighbors argue. It’s summer and all of our windows are open-the conversation only took a minute or two.
The man believed that when his wife became busy or preoccupied, there must be something hugely wrong, that their marriage was in trouble. Even when she tried to explain to him that his perceptions were incorrect, that she was just not feeling particularly energetic because of extra stress at work, up nights with a sick baby, etc, he would not let go of his perceptions. He was actually creating the very reality he was afraid of.
In about 45 seconds, he turned from concern to begging to threats ( “If that’s how you want it, I’ll just leave!”) I couldn’t believe that this couple I normally hear laughing and having normal family time were fighting like this. She attempted to talk to him rationally a couple of times, but then left the apartment until he cooled down, but I don’t think it fixed anything. He was miserable and mired in his perceptions, which to him, were very real. Unfortunately, he was making those he supposedly loves miserable, too.
It made me realize how essential it is to check our perceptions…to listen to our friend or spouse or coworker…and just deal with the reality, not whatever catastrophe we may imagine. Living in the present helps, as does living in love and trust.
I feel genuinely sorry for both of them, but particularly for this woman, because I don’t think there is any amount of reassurance she can give her spouse that will convince him things are OK, so he won’t create a very real situation in which they are not.
Have you checked your perceptions lately?