If you look at a tree – do you really see the tree? Or is it just your mind creating the inner picture of the tree triggered by some reflections of light? Would a bird or a dog see the same tree just the way you would? That is highly unlikely.
The perception of reality is not only based on the object that is being watched (or listened, touched, etc.) but also on the subject who is watching.
Our mind gets several informations from our senses and then tries to evaluate this information. It tries to make it meaningful. In this process, it creates stories in your brain, because it needs to understand why something is happening.
Think about this situation. You come to your office and your boss yells at you. Familiar? Now your senses notice his facial changes, his difference in wording and tonality and his change in physiology. That is what your senses give you as information. Now your brain wants to come up, why these changes in your boss happened. Your brain is looking at a cause. And because he is yelling at you, therefore you must be the cause, right?
Well… maybe not.
Our Mind Needs a Story to Fill the Gap of Not Knowing Why Something Happened
Because what our mind does is, it wants to fill the gap between noticing any change in environments (in this case your bosses voice and physiology had changed) and wants to know why this happened. If there is no apparent reason (e.g. a heavy piece of metal just fell on his feet and created some pain for him) the brain makes up one, that might not have any basis in reality, simply because not being able to come up with a “why” feels pretty painful to your brain. So it collects whatever information it has and creates any explanation, even if it is totally wrong.
A false explanation feels much better to your subconscious than no explanation.
Your mind wants to feel secure about what happened. But maybe bringing some insecurity back could help you cope better with the apparent situation.
Do You Know the Whole Story?
Ask Yourself: Do I Know the Whole Story?
If a waiter is not smiling at you, you interpret it as him being rude to you? But do you know the whole story? What if you heard that his wife or his kid is chronically ill and is in a hospital, but he needs to work to make up healthcare payment? Would that change your perception of the situation? Would you think he is rude to you or would you think, that his mind is maybe somewhere else with his beloved kid?
Very often you don’t know the whole story. Stop your mind from coming up with an easy answer and admit with Socrates: “I know that I know nothing. I just assume, and that assumption could be totally wrong.
Your Mind Will Always Assume
But the trick is, that your mind will always assume. It is a basic function of it to close the gaps of not knowing. It can’t stand not knowing why. So making up a story by assuming is a natural function. What you can do is give it multiple possible answers that you can direct.
Using the waiter example. Your first assumption might be, that he is rude to you. And sure that is how it feels to you. But first you can create doubt within yourself, asking “Do I know the whole story”. Then you can admit “No, I don’t know.”. Third, you can give your brain some alternative assumption it can play with, to satisfy the need to have (possible) explanations. You go: “Maybe, one of his kids is ill, and he is absent minded. Or maybe his boss treated him bad and he don’t know how to handle that better. Or maybe he had a car accident on the way to work. Or maybe ….”. You get the picture. Giving multiple assumptions helps your mind to relax and admit that it might not know the truth.
Ask to Get the Truth – but Don’t Expect to Get It
And if you really want to know, you could ask. Maybe you get the story.
But sometimes people don’t want to tell you. The waiter might not want to share the story of his ill child with you. Or your partner don’t want to (or can’t) tell you right now, why she is upset with you.
Try to find out the truth, but don’t get upset if people can’t always tell you.
If someone is not treating you right or even verbally attacking you, maybe it is not because of your person, but the person feels threatened at the current situation, and his reaction pattern is not something you like. Well you should definitely tell him so, but you should refrain from feeling personally attacked.
Because you don’t know the whole story.
Accept that – and you might feel much better knowing that you don’t know.