Perception Interpretation

How many times have you found yourself offended by the words and deeds of another person that may have been unwarranted? Even if you knew your feelings were likely unjust, still you found yourself filled with angst and fury and lashed out or made a rash decision based on the emotional whirlpool pulling you down to your lowest desperate state.

So you strike out, do or say something in your defense because in this emotional chaos, you can think of nothing more than self preservation at all costs.

You rationalize your thoughts and actions based on the truth you are able to extract from the all the data that you have access to. Using your perception you convert the results of your research and statistics to come to a cognitive conclusion justifying the torrential chaos you felt in that moment based on your interpretation.

perception interpretation what is truth rash decision perception is reality

This happens every day, and how can you blame anyone for perceiving everyday occurrences via their individual perception? You can’t. Why? Because we can only determine that is really truth from within. Only we know what is true for us based on our own interpretation of the information available to us at the time.

In example, take a look at Jasmine and Darnell. They are in their early thirties, recently involved in a romantic courtship and things are going so very well. They are professing their love for each other and even talking about spending the rest of their lives together.

On their six month anniversary, Darnell makes reservations for a quaint bistro, picks up a card and a teddy bear with a heart on its tummy and presents them to Jasmine when he comes calling to pick her up for their scheduled date.

Jasmine greets him at the door enthusiastically. Darnell holds out the bear and card to Jasmine, as her countenance immediately shifts to contempt and anger. She throws the bear into the street, rips the card into pieces and throws the pieces at Darnell’s face and kicks him off the porch while shouting disrespectful obscenities and slams the door as Darnell falls to the ground.

After driving away and pulling over to the side of the road, Darnell texts Jasmine, which does not go through, then tries to call to discover his number’s already been blocked.

Looking for emotional support, the couple reaches out to their friends in an effort to cope with the ensuing chaos. Jasmine tells her friends that Darnell is a manipulative predator, nothing short of a rapist, while Darnell spins tales of Jasmine’s severe mental disorders. Friends rally around the couple. Damages follow, some that are irreparable.

Knowing the details of Jasmine’s struggle with her past doesn’t justify her outburst and reaction to the otherwise innocuous display of affection. Issues she’s been battling within since childhood predicted her response with high-precision accuracy. Likewise, Darnell’s accusations of Jasmine’s mental instability were based on triggers from his past.

From their perspective they are both telling stories based on the truth they believe, as real to them as gravity, yet things aren’t always what they seem and neither of them have as much information as I have (purposely filtered) additionally I am certain there is much more information yet to be uncovered.

Jasmine would fare much better in the same circumstance today, because she has worked though many of the unresolved issues of her past and while she still tends to be quite impulsive, is training herself to pause (and count to three to herself) before responding, reacting or pressing “send” when she is feeling overwhelmed. This brief hesitation gives her just enough space to consider possibilities, ramifications and helps her to manage her truth and consequences.

Don’t judge someone based on surface information because you may have no idea what lies beneath the surface. We all have lives consisting of a plethora of past experiences, beliefs and misinterpretations the sum of which has gotten us this far. After all, we’re all doing the best we can with what we have. This is why we are cautioned to never judge a book by its cover.

If we are to have any faith in our ability to successfully share this planet with other inhabitants, we must find ways to stop dividing us one against the other, discover how to get along with each other and accept that we are all parts of the same soup, even though we all are so very different.

No one is blaming you or me for our perception or interpretation, because in heat of the moment it’s all we have to determine what is truth as it influences how i feel about you, how you feel about me and how we feel about ourselves.

In fact in all things perception is reality and subject to change pending accumulation of additional data.

Pausing in an effort to avoid making a rash decision or burning a bridge beyond repair like Jasmine does now, might be sound advice for all of us.

All you can do is to try not to judge or react too promptly, accept others for who they are and where they are at in their life’s journey and discover how to make yourself happy as you live a better life. A little tolerance goes a long way.

For me, I try to imagine what it must be like to the person who is reacting, put myself in their shoes and look for the love. While I haven’t perfected this method because I too, can react in self defense in the heat of the moment… but as immediately as possible look with empathy for love in the wings.

We’re all in process, for if we weren’t, we would not be. Let’s make the best of it.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Often the subject of debate, two people witness the same incident, a group of people share the same experience at the same time and place, scientists researching the same problems, political parties examine the same set of statistics, on and on it goes, and everyone comes to a different conclusion.

The financial backbone of our society, legal and otherwise, actually depends, is powered by, and thrives on people’s inability to agree.

Everything that we witness, see, experience is fed into ourselves via our observatory senses, the data collected by our nervous system is interpreted by our mind – which we know is a collection of data collected over a lifetime – and our brain tries to make sense of it all, arriving at a personal conclusion.

So, really, it’s no surprise that people see things differently, especially if Miss Interpretation is participating.

And that’s not even addressing the idea of spin. Spin is a tactic used to manipulate the perceptions of people about a specific event, idea, topic or occurrence. The spin technique is wielded by media, politicians, salespeople, educators, lawyers, parents and friends (not to mention those with less than honorable intentions) in an attempt to persuade the perception of others. In fact, just about everyone who would have a sense of pride or comfort knowing that someone agreed with them about something. In this sense, most of us are guilty of attempting to impose our personal spin or opinion on others, because hanging out with like-minded people gives us a sense of belonging.

Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, better known by the stage name Criss Angel hangs out in Las Vegas (one of my favorite towns), freaking people out by demonstrating that things aren’t always what they seem better than anyone. Everything is explainable, once you know the secret. So, he can levitate – or appear to levitate – on an open street without the use of harnesses of wires. The question in my mind is, “Can anyone truly levitate.”

I know people, in spiritual circles, who believe it is possible. Could a normal person (someone besides Criss Angel) levitate on a public street? Here’s an untouched – not photo-shopped – photo:

actual non photoshopped picture of levitating man on public street
actual non-photoshopped picture of levitating man on public street

What do you think? Is this guy actually levitating on a public street? Or is it someone standing next to a grease spot on the street?

How about the un-retouched photo of this two-headed dog?

two headed dog
Two-headed dog

Just as in the case of these pictures are not what they seem, perception influences everything we experience and oftentimes, we have a choice determining the conclusion.

Clearly, things are not always as they seem and this is the basis of many inspirational stories, like this story of two angles on a terrestrial stroll:

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied …”Things aren’t always what they seem.”

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel “how could you have let this happen!? The first man had everything, yet you helped him,” she accused. “The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die.”

“Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave her the cow instead. Things aren’t always what they seem.”

An inspirational story that depicts there could be more going on than what meets the eye.

Maybe the next time you quickly come to a conclusion about a certain person, place, thing, event or circumstance or someone tries to persuade you to think something, you might consider taking a moment to pause (breathe) and do some investigation on your own before drawing a premature conclusion.

Just some food for thought, as we all know – more often than not – things are not what they seem, at first.

Meet Miss Interpretation

I’m a communicator; it’s what I do.

How can something so simple, like stacking words in a certain order to convey one’s thoughts, be so complicated?

I can assemble a little 140-character text (laughing and giggling about how innovative, clever and humorous I’ve been in my word assembly) and press SEND.

Within moments, I receive a barrage of complaints, accusations and abbreviations, like OMG, WTF and/or blocked, unfriended, deleted or reported as spam.

Now, I feel bad because SHE reared her pretty head and stuck that cute little nose right in the middle of my attempt to reach out and communicate with others.

With a name like, “Interpretation,” you’d think she’d exert all her efforts in helping people understand what message I was trying to convey… BUT NO-o-o-o, she’s got to stretch, twist and garble it all so as to have the worst possible outcome.

Thats not what he meant to say Miss Interpretation misinterpretation

Little Miss Interpretation has been at this as long as I can remember. As a kid, I’d try to express myself to my parents and get sent to my room or punched in the face. I’ve said things (and been fairly adequately quoted) from the pulpit, stage, conference room, boardroom, classroom or office with the best intentions, only to have MI mess things up for me.

There I was, fully intent on effectively communicating when she walks in and gets everyone all riled up, offended, objecting and ranting about something that wasn’t even intended to be included in what I was talking about. How does she do it?

“That’s not what he meant to say.”

~ Miss Interpretation

She gets inside people’s head and rifles through all their personal belongings and grabs words, ideas and thoughts that still hold emotional charge from the past and waves it in front of their face:

“See this! Look at that! Remember this? What about that?”

A relentless barrage of old information that is highly charged with negative emotion, causing the individual to think that danger may be ahead.

A person can’t help but recoil in self-preservation and protect themselves from such a vicious attack, and…

Forget everything I’ve ever said before this moment.

Now, all attention is on this word – or phrase – that harkens to a time that may have been dangerous (or at the very least unpleasant) and now I (the messenger who used the word or phrase with the best of intentions) am an assailant.

How does she wield so much power over us? And I’m the first to admit, that even though I work hard on kicking her to the curb every time she tries to interrupt someone else’s monologue, I too, have fallen victim to her manipulative influence and subject to mounting up to do battle or cut-and-run.

She does seem to have access to all my personal baggage accumulated since birth, and she’ll use anything she can get her hands on to derail (initiating fight or flight response) an otherwise potentially meaningful exchange of information between two people.

Why does she do it?

I don’t know… I think it’s because she hangs out with that little child inside us and that’s how she gets her kicks. Or maybe her intentions are good; it’s just that in an effort to protect us from harm’s way, she sees everything as a potential threat… even when it may not be a threat at all.

Just words

Exchanged between two people

Looking for a home

in our hearts and minds

The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

you cant handle the truthLet’s talk about truth…

What is truth? What does that mean to you?

How can you know whether something is true, or not?

When someone asserts an absolute, its easy to question the credibility of the messenger as well as the veracity of the message.

For anything to be true, it must be based on fact(s) and/or based in reality; though a truth could also be based on collective beliefs based on much less fact and/or reality as it is known. Truth can also be either subjective or objective.

The measure of truth highly depends on the information that is available for evaluating the prospective truth based on the perspective of the investigator.

In my own life, I have asserted many things as absolute truths based on my valuation of the material that was available at the time. Interestingly, I have lived long enough to discover that many of the things that I believed to be true, based on information that was available (or that I was fed) at the time, required reevaluation as new information came to light.

Truth in its highest form would be absolute, but who are we to assert that we could be the authority on anything? One truth about truth is, “seek and you will find.” As long as there is a quest for the truth with a desire to come to a particular outcome, some searcher, somewhere, sometime will derive the conclusion sought.

Yet, we are responsible to seek and maintain our own truths as we travel along this life’s journey; it is a sacred gift, not bestowed on other life forms on this planet. The key is to be open to the idea that truth is a moving target, ever evolving, as we observe, grow and gather information along our individual paths.

The truth, then, is as varied as we are; each of us determining our own truths from moment to moment.

What if someone does not ascribe to our idea of what is true about a particular idea or concept?

This is where one should practice the wisdom of decorum. If you maintain the belief that an idea that is true, yet it is clearly not accepted by the masses, you must proceed with caution and good judgment out of respect for your potential audience.

You are absolutely right What you believe is true Keep sharing your light with those who can hear youPeople are not able to hear any message or see anything without a proper sense of congruency to have an intellectual connection with your idea (cognitive dissonance).

Anytime someone shares an idea that I experience cognitive dissonance with, I say:

“Thank you for sharing. You are absolutely right. What you believe is true. Keep sharing your light with those who can hear you.”

If you cant think of anything positive to say repeat these words I see what you mean

If I can decipher enough congruency to get a grip on what they are trying to say form their perspective, and I am unable to find an appropriate positive or uplifting response, I simply say:

“I see what you mean.”

This allows my mind to consider understanding what the person is saying from their point of view at some time in the future.

It always amazes me, when I hear a concept – that upon the initial discovery of the idea – I find hard to believe; but, if I do not violently reject it and allow new information to be gathered and evaluated over time, the concept may begin to appear more credible. The new idea starts to become visible and possibly more credible than other ideas that I held closely previously. This concept may create a challenge for comprehension based on its conflict with old ideas in light of new information or discoveries, ergo anything is possible.

Keep an open mind. Don’t judge others for where they are, and do not overtly assert your ideas. Share openly but humbly, allowing your audience the opportunity to let your idea(s) sink in as they begin to collect more information, possibly challenging things that they once revered as absolute.

Debate is folly and overwhelm causes others to discard any value that your message might have.

Share compassionately; and don’t waste your efforts on those who cannot possibly comprehend what you are trying to say, but never stop… Those with the ears to hear will hear you.

I’m listening… Are you?