Friday Flashback: Perception and Reality
I’ve always disliked (okay, deeply hated) the phrase “perception is reality”. I don’t like the idea that reality is dependent on something other than what is true. I suppose I would “fix” that statement by saying “What we perceive becomes reality to us” as this means reality is still based on truth, while an individual’s view of reality is easily coloured by all manner of things which may not be true.
Semantics aside, the sad truth is “perceived reality” is a powerful thing, and those who deny that are going to have problems. Learning to see other’s false reality as valid in their mind is critical.
Shortly after Lori and I married, I said to her, “Do you know I love you?” I asked this as a cute little way of saying I loved her, it was not interned as a question. Therefore, her answer of “No, I don’t” was a major shock to me! I could have gotten defensive, and tried to convince her that I did love her. However, I realised that her not being sure I loved her was more about her, and her past, than about me. I was certainly hurt, but arguing her skewed reality was not going to help either of us. Rather than argue, I decided to work at showing my love, while praying for and urging her to pursue healing from the past wounds that were colouring her perception.
When someone else sees what we know to be truth as something else, it’s easy to be upset. Getting defensive is natural, but it’s not helpful. You can’t change someone’s view of reality by arguing, or yelling, or being hurt. Depending on why they see things as they do, you may have no chance of changing their view… at least not at that moment. Resolving things like this takes time, and patience; and a lot of prayer is a good plan. Anger, while understandable, doesn’t help. Being hurt may be unavoidable, but playing on that is more likely to make things worse than to help.
By the way, it took more than a year, but Lori eventually knew that I did, and do, love her.
[This post first appeared April 27, 2010.]