2004-07-16 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

by Marilyn Gelfand

I find it so fascinating to realize how personal our choices are in what we perceive. I recently went to a high school reunion, and there were about six of us who were friends together in our class.  When we saw each other at the reunion after all these years, we remembered a correct fact, but each one us had a different fact. I remembered who one friend had as her closest friend.  Someone else remembered that she skipped an extra grade.  Another remembered a fight that this woman had as a young girl.  Another remembered a personal event in her life. 

After being apart for 40 years, the thing that struck each one of us about this friend was something different. 

What we recall is usually triggered by something important within ourselves. 

I didn’t like to raise my hand much and only if I had the correct answer so I wouldn’t look stupid. I was the only one who remembered that she loved being the center of attention and always raised her hand whether she was sure of her response of not. The person who remembered the skipping of the grades was interested in intellectual achievement. 

Reality is not our perception. 

Our perception picks up something, but usually not the whole picture. 

We may not know the circumstances of why someone behaves in a particular way. 

We can’t get all the sides of an issue, sometimes, because we are not exposed to them. 

The important point is to remember that my perception is based on me and what the other person showed me of himself. In addition to my triggers, the other may want to be kind to one person and nasty to the next. 

People treat each other differently. The motives behind the actions vary too. Someone may be nice to get something from the other person. So, I know I am looking at a particular scene, and then I interpret it through my own lens of perception.

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