At breakfast, a close friend said to me I was looking good yesterday morning. I replied in my usual jovial dry way that you should see it from my side. I wasn’t feeling the way I was apparently looking. Apart form the fact she was probably just being kind, this made me think about perceptions. Most people pride themselves on the ability to read others. I wander how accurate those perception are. If close to someone, overtime we learn to read their moods, when to speak and when not to etc. This, of course is an important part of a relationship. The word empathy is used a lot to describe this ability. We can empathise with someone who has experienced a death in the family or failure in an exam, but what about organic depression or severe anxiety. If we have never experienced it ourselves, are we confident to say we do understand? Not so straight forward, I think.
I remember a long time ago talking to an elderly man I was looking after in hospital. What he said to me has stayed with me ever since.
“Never for one moment make the mistake that who you are talking to thinks exactly the way you do.”
Never truer words have been spoken. The human brain is a very complex thing and depending on what it’s been exposed to, will react in many different ways. Environment and culture influence those experiences. Being immersed in our culture from birth, we are all indoctrinated to some extent to the ways of our society. The view of world is through the eyes of those who have come before us. Some societies are more authoritarian than others; the process of expressing oneself may be more restrictive.
So, to an extent we are all products of our upbringing, controlled from birth to act in certain ways. The shackles of these restraints are either thrown off by the end of our youth through life experiences or stay with us for the rest of our lives. The more educated / well read we become the more flexible in our thinking; maybe, maybe not. I know well-educated acquaintances who haven’t a flexible bone in their body or so, it seems to me. But I think in general the ability to be reflective comes from life experiences.
Though the human mind can close itself off if a vested interest or two gets in the way. A few politicians and business types immediately come to mind.
I’ve gone off topic a bit here. All I’m trying to say is we really never know what others are thinking or feeling. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to find out. It was kind of nice that someone told me I was looking good. But then again, maybe they need a new pair of glasses.
Just to finish off, my “friend” told me this morning I looked tired. Ahh! I feel much better now, back to normal.