In psychology and the cognitive sciences, perception is the process of getting, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information. It includes the collection of data from sense organs through to the interpretation made by the brain. ... Perception is a lot more than just "information coming in”.
If wisdom comes with age, the whole notion of “perceiving” a situation and attempting to understand what is happening has taken on a different twist in my relationships with people. In youth what I perceived (saw, heard, touched, smelled) was my reality. It was “truth”. Other people had their own perceptions, but they couldn’t possibly be true when they did not coincide with my own. I remember my brother and I discussing a family event from our childhood. As I listened to my brother relate what happened, I remember thinking,’Oh, he’s got that all wrong. It happened this way.” And I proceeded to correct his errant notions. We went back and forth for a long time, neither of us giving up on our version of the “truth”, until we finally had to lay the discussion (argument) to rest knowing we were never going to agree.
It was the classic example of the perception of the “eyewitness” to a crime. You can have several people who see the same thing happen and then each one tells a different story. Everything we know we run through a filter of personal experience. All the traumas of our childhood; our relationships with our parents and other family members; health issues; unresolved grief. But the final step is the one most often forgotten — our experience is interpreted through our brain. It is in that massive machine inside our head all incoming information is interpreted, selected and organized before it becomes something of which we take ownership and becomes the way in which we see the world. As the definition says, perception is not just information in and information out. A lot has happened to the information while it has been stewing around in the juices of our psyche.
In all our relationships that notion of perception is huge. Long ago there was a book, Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars (John Gray, 1992). It dealt with the reality that men and women are different. We are not alike in how we see the world or how we deal with what happens in the world. Men and women have different skill sets. In business the good leader knows how to take those skill sets and help them compliment each other while still giving recognition to the uniqueness of each.
In marriage as much as possible there is no “his problem” “her problem” but rather a recognition of “our problem” and how we are going to deal with it together. When confronted with a difference of perception we immediately go on the defensive to protect and relate our “truth” of the situation while the other person does the same thing from their vantage point.
Too often neither side will back down. Personal perception of “Truth” has become so deeply ingrained in the person nothing else is possible. Compromise is the term we have created to attempt to deal with this seemingly impossible situation. How do we work with an alternate perception, until we can see some glimmer of agreement between the two points? This compromise requires a movement away from the drama of the great “I” toward the possibilities “we” can create.