Perception Checking

We think we see the world as it is. But we actually see it through our limited perceptions and stories we construct to explain it. We develop narratives about who we are, who other people are, and what events and communication mean. We’re on a constant quest to explain things to ourselves. Each of us was raised differently, had vastly different experiences, came from different cultures and were exposed to different kinds of information, so we all created our thinking patterns separately and distinctly. No wonder we have such a hard time understanding each other. “How could you POSSIBLY think THAT!?” we often ask. We forget we have limited perceptions, and over-trust our impressions. Even the Bible points this out, saying we only see as if looking at a reflection and knowing in part.* That is why ten people can witness a crime and all report a different story. It’s also why ten million people can watch the same television event and all have a distinct experience. It helps if we break down the process into a simple model: We are stimulated through our senses. What we observe (notice) is selectively based on what grabs our attention, meets a need, or is enjoyable. We then organize what we have sensed into thinking structures that make sense to us. Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, called these knowledge or mental schemata that we developed from our unique experiences and what sociologists, Berger and Luckmann, called social construction.** After that we interpret; we assign meaning to what we sensed.  We confuse these stages, especially observation and interpretation. I understand how challenging this can be, especially in relationships. I have a good friend who is very different than me. We see the world in vastly different ways, and we...

Top 10-#6 The World is Complex...

Icebergs are beautiful. They can also be deadly (think Titanic). The thing about icebergs is that you only see a very small portion of the whole thing. Things happen and we try to understand. It’s human nature to try to fit life into our mental schemata; it’s how our brains are wired. We categorize things based on our personality and previous experiences. When things don’t fit, we assign explanations. We often assign false reasons because the world is too complex for us to grasp. There is no way we can understand everything. We say things like, “what a coincidence,” “the devil made me do it,” “it’s their fault,” and “God is punishing me.” I once heard an analogy that not only do we not see the tip of the iceberg, but we don’t even see the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Of course that is a metaphor for the complexity of life. There is a theory that to understand why any two cars pass on a road at any one time, you would have to understand the entire history of the universe. Why were they there? Why at that exact time? Why were they going where they were going? What kind of car were they driving? Who designed it? What kind of engineering limitations did it have? What was the condition of the road and why? Where did the weather come from? Why were those people even living in that place? Etc., etc., etc. You get the point. In my post, “Think Flexible,” I made an argument for viewing the world as flexible or open, as opposed to fixed. There is a world full of possibilities and complexities. For example, many people of faith pray. Then they assume the only influence on...