I performed a very limited experiment to help you visualize my thoughts today.
The object used for this demonstration is a flower. Well, not actually a real flower, but the thought of a living flower growing somewhere or blooming from a vase. My question is “When you look at a flower, what are the first four things you think?”
I look at a flower and my thoughts in order are:
Alyssa, my lovely daughter, looks at a flower and her thoughts in order are:
- It’s really pretty.
- My mom would love that.
- Are there any bees around?!
- Can I smell it?
Notice the punctuation as well as the words and length of the answers because all of it is relevant to this discussion.
Analysis of my answers shows that I start and end with strong positive feelings. In the middle are the negatives/concerns, one strongly exclaimed and the other just an accepted state of affairs. My answers were also all just a single word.
Alyssa, on the other hand, only had one negative/concern while the rest were positive and interactive. She also used full sentences instead of just a single word response like I answered.
Feeling like you are in school again? That isn’t my purpose, I promise. By comparing our answers and dissecting them, we can also learn a little about our personalities. I am very straightforward, blunt, analytical and yet I enjoy beautiful things. Alyssa is extremely creative, loves to not only see beautiful things, but also likes to experience them.
There is not a right or wrong answer to my flower question, just an understanding in the differences in perception.
That is a medium sized word that creates a huge impact.
Everyone has a totally different set of environmental influences and individual personality traits that cause our perceptions to be completely different although we are looking at or discussing the exact same thing! I find this fascinating, however, it is often frustrating too.
Discussing, and I really mean discussing instead of arguing, can allow all people involved to have a better understanding, and it can cause us to become more patient and unselfish. Our perception often is skewed or completely wrong for many reasons. Simple things like the following can cause a needless argument:
- political views
- one child
- no children
- many children
- living in a house
- living in a condo
- living on a dirt floor
- living in an apartment
- having health issues
- being employed
and the list could go on and on.
If we just stop to think about how the other person might be perceiving what we say, it could prevent misunderstanding and hurt feelings. You know the quote…
until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”
Choose your words carefully and give other people the benefit of the doubt. Try to hear the meaning of what is being said to you instead of defensively focusing on the words and how they “could” be mean-spirited. Perception can wreck a really good conversation or even a relationship. On the flip side, it can also improve our character because forgiveness and tolerance of other people’s imperfections and poor choices would be practiced. It can even help us to be more aware of the bigger impact of our own actions and how other people might perceive us.
Nobody has all the answers to every problem nor can they do everything right, but if everyone works together nothing is impossible. Since each of us makes mistakes, poor choices, and suffer our own silent battles, I believe a little less judging would help greatly. So the next time someone says or does something that immediately makes you want to lash out, step back to see if your perception improves.
If nothing else, we might be able to meet in the middle with everyone in peace because our view is clearer and our understanding expanded.
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