You and your partner react and behave in your relationship each from your own Perception of Reality – your personal view point of how things “should be”. Your perceptions are affected by many factors you have internalized over the years while growing up. As long as you are NOT able to be flexible and accept each other’s point of view, you are likely to find yourselves in endless conflicts, arguments and frustrations.
YOUR PERCEPTION OF REALITY AFFECTS YOUR INTERACTIONS
As much as you may want to have a satisfying intimacy, your perception of reality affects your interactions with your partner and might lead to endless arguments and conflicts.
This happens when you the two of you react and behave in your relationship each from his/her own Perception of Reality – the personal view point of how things “should be”.
Your respective perceptions are affected by many factors each of you have internalized over the years while growing up. As long as you are not able to be flexible and accept each other’s point of view, you are likely to find yourselves in endless conflicts, arguments and frustrations.
WHAT IS YOUR PERCEPTION OF REALITY?
Your Perception of Reality is the subjective way in which you look at the world around you and interpret it. It’s the way you think, feel and explain things – to yourself and to your partner. It’s the way you believe things “should” be.
Your perception of reality is affected by many factors you are not aware of and has developed over the years on the basis of:
* Past experiences that you’ve accumulated.
* Messages from your childhood homes that shaped your thoughts, feelings, attitudes and opinions.
* Beliefs you internalized.
* Your expectations, deprivations, needs and fears.
As long as you are not aware of your Perception of Reality you might harm your relationship without even knowing and acknowledging that you do. The reason is simple: your thoughts, feelings, expectations, reactions and behaviors are controlled by your Perception of Reality. You think that “your way” of thinking and behaving is “the right way”, and you can’t accept the notion that your partner might have different ways of thinking and behaving. Consequently you sabotage your relationship time and again.
The following example illustrates it:
BETSY & SIDNEY: A COUPLE BEHAVING EACH FROM HIS/HER POINT OF VIEW OF HOW THINGS “SHOULD” BE
EFORE Betsy & Sidney develop Self-Awareness…
Christmas is approaching. Betsy wants to go to her parents for the holiday. Sidney thinks it’s a chance to go away for a vacation together. Each one tries to convince the other, without success.
They both stick to their ideas and, as the holiday draws closer, the arguments intensify. Sidney is afraid that soon they won’t be able to book a flight. Betsy wants to tell her parents that they’ll be coming.
The arguments turn into mutual reproaches. Betsy tells Sydney that he’s egotistical; that he doesn’t respect her parents; that he doesn’t understand her. Sydney replies that she doesn’t have the courage to do what she really wants; that when it comes to her parents, she still behaves like a little girl.
Both of them are angry and irritated. All their communication focuses on the holiday. They silently curse each other, knowing that no matter what they ultimately will decide to do, they won’t be having a pleasant holiday together.
HOW DOES BETSY & SIDNEY’S LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS HARM THEIR RELATIONSHIP?
Betsy and Sidney are both locked into their own perceptions of reality.
BETSY may be behaving based on:
* The message she internalized that she “must respect her parents no matter what”.
* A sense of guilt that she has about disappointing her parents.
* The fear that her parents are getting older and she won’t have many more opportunities to see them.
* The belief that “one should take care of others before taking care of oneself”.
SIDNEY may be behaving based on:
* An unconscious rebellion against the entire concept of “family”.
* The belief that “one should take care of oneself before taking care of others”.
* Messages he internalized that “in life you should do what feels right to you and not out of a sense of obligation”.
Whatever the reasons for their obstinacy, as long as they are controlled by their perceptions, they have no possibility of accepting and agreeing with the fact that each one of them has a different perception of reality.
That’s why they can’t be flexible enough to find a solution that will satisfy them both (for example, spending one day of the holiday with Betsy’s parents and take a trip immediately afterwards).
AFTER Betsy & Sidney develop Self-Awareness…
When both Betsy and Sidney develop their respective Self-Awareness, it becomes easier for each of them to understand and acknowledge the other’s point of view. They also understand the factors affecting each other’s perception of reality.
With this understanding they can now mutually agree upon the best way for them to solve their conflict and make a plan for Christmas that will satisfy both.
STICKING ON TO YOUR PERCEPTIION OF REALITY HARMS YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Simple situations like Betsy and Sydney’s repeat themselves in different variations time and again. You perceive the reality in which you live from your own individual point of view. Since your perception of reality as well as your partner’s is subjective, you will see things differently.
At the same time, you tend to think that the way in which you see reality is the correct one, and you expect your partner to perceive reality the way you do. Since the two of you are convinced that you are “right”, you often find yourselves in conflicts, fights and disagreements, where each one of you tries to “show” the other that he/she is wrong.
When you begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, you might be wrong, you might still continue to stick to your guns and find a million and one ways to justify yourself and tell your partner: “You didn’t understand me properly”; “That isn’t what I meant”; “It has always worked before”.
DEVELOPING YOUR SELF-AWARENESS IS THE SOLUTION
Becoming aware of your tendency to stick to your own perception of reality and understanding how your perception of reality has been formed are the means to stop acting automatically according to your perception.
You can then more readily accept your partner’s perception, share your thoughts and desires with him/her, and mutually agree on the way to proceed without getting into power struggle accompanied by conflicts, demands, boycotting and disagreements.
The closeness, intimacy and mutual care which you desire to have in your relationship are then likely to be present more frequently.
Doron Gil, Ph.D., a university teacher, workshop leader, counselor and consultant, is an Expert in the interplay between Self-Awareness and Relationships. He has written many articles on the subject and is the author of “The Self-Awareness Guide to a Successful Intimate Relationship: http://amzn.to/eAmMmH