Perceiving is Believing — Not!

Not too many weeks ago, my husband and I returned from a trip we took out in Utah. While there, we hiked some national parks — Zion, Bryce, Snow Canyon, and Kolob. I cannot even begin to describe to you how magnificent these natural sites were. I couldn’t stop gasping as we turned every corner.

I think by now you know how even while I’m relaxing my brain never rests. I’m always on the “lookout” for special experiences or lessons that I can learn and share with you. Of course, when you look for something, you find it (that, in and of itself, is a lesson).

A little help

Never having been to this region before, we asked the assistance of the concierge at the facility at which we were staying. I thought we were very fortunate to gain the help of someone who was a hiker herself. She was quite knowledgeable about the paths and offered her expertise as to their difficulty; my spouse and I are moderate hikers.

She told us about one at Zion and said that it was an easy trail. For those of you who may have hiked Zion, I refer to Canyon Overlook. Based on her recommendation, my husband felt we wouldn’t need our hiking poles; based on my trepidation, I felt it was wise to take them. Thank goodness for my caution!

Though the final destination offered a magnificent site and was well worth the climb, the hike was by no means an easy one. As a matter of fact, the park puts out a brochure and in it, Canyon Overlook is rated as moderately challenging.

Mind the gap

So why the discrepancy? Would this woman purposely report something inaccurately? I am absolutely certain that the variation in assessing the challenge level so differently was due to a matter of perception.

The truth of the matter is that in life there is no absolute reality. Everyone has his or her own perception of what is going on. And whether that perception is accurate or not, the person will act on it.

Now, you may think that I have just contradicted myself because I said that there is no absolute reality; so, how can something be inaccurate? I’m thinking in terms of relationships. I cannot even begin to tell you how often a couple gets into trouble with one another because they have either misperceived or misattributed the other’s reaction.

Let me give you an absurd example to help out. One partner asks for help from the other. The second partner, while thinking about the response simultaneously grimaces. The partner asking for assistance upon seeing the grimace assumes the other wants no part of helping. However, maybe at the exact moment of responding, the mate doing so experienced gas accounting for the grimace.

Since humans are so emotionally frail, you tend not to ask questions to clarify but act based on what you perceived as the reality. And … to complicate matters further, your partner is doing the same. It really can get quite cumbersome.

But if you know that as two different people you are likely to look at the world differently, you both might be able to enjoy spectacular views!