Thursday, February 17, 2011

What do you see?

One thing that we often don't realize is that we only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. And that's a very inaccurate representation of reality, whatever that reality may be.

For example, think of one person that you think is (or thought was) the most charming person on earth (or something close).

Now write down or think of 10-15 qualities that you think that person has that makes him/her so amazing.

Now for each of these, think of an example of an incident, a gesture, an action, something they said that proves that they have this quality. Is this getting hard yet?

Now can you recall observing that same person 1) reacting to a stressful situation 2) in an argument that he/she is passionate about 3) under social/political/peer pressure 4) in a delicate situation 5) in an emergency situation... ? Do they still have all those qualities you thought they possess in those situations? If you don't know, that's not a yes. It's not a no, but it's not a yes.

My point is that we don't know someone very well unless we've seen them and know how they react in extreme conditions. The problem is that, until that happens, we don't really know much and our brain cannot stand it. It makes up stuff. Hence we fantasize on the heroic qualities and assign them to our "idol". In our mind, if they're awesome in a certain way, they're probably awesome in that way too, and that way too. It just makes sense!

But it really doesn't. Our mind confabulates. We create this image of people in our heads. And that image is not who they are, but who we want them to be. Sooner or later, the person will do things that will contradict this perception that we have of them. Hello disappointment.We got tricked! But not by the person we thought... By our own mind!

Problem number 2 is that our  brain is a little stubborn and messed up when it comes to corrections. We can find lots of flaws in our initial perception and yet, we are still attached to it. We don't wanna let it go. It's too hard to accept the fact that we were wrong all along and that all we saw was merely a reflection of our own desires, nothing to do with the actual reality. So we hold on to the fantasy and hurt ourselves and possibly the person too.

For now, I'm trying to keep in mind that, whoever I think people are, it's possible that they are not. Even when I am strongly convinced otherwise. We cannot start accepting people for who they are when we only like them for who we want them to be. So this is my effort to get to know people for who they are. It's really hard not to make any assumptions. We're wired that way. But I'm gonna try untangling some wires and see how much floor space gets cleaned up in the server room :)

I'm not sure if this is clear or making sense. I know for some of you, your perception of me indicates I don't need sleep, but I do right now :P

If it makes any sense and is of any insight, please feel free to tweet, post, share, whatever you call it.

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