It was a Supermoon the other night and I was admiring it and thinking about how the moon looks like it is glowing, when in fact it is reflecting light from the sun.
It made me think about how things are not always what they appear to be, and how it’s possible to view the same thing in different ways, sometimes depending on what other information is available to us.
Optical illusions are a nice example of seeing things differently. The duck-rabbit, for example, which can be either a duck or a rabbit depending on how you look at it or what you expect to see.
The old woman/young woman (at the bottom of the page) is another example where you can see two different images depending on how you are looking at the picture.
How we perceive situations and relationships can be similarly tricksy. The same situation can be interpreted in a variety of ways, often depending on how we are feeling that day.
If I send a text message and my friend doesn’t reply for a bit I could have different perceptions about what that means: they might want to reply but be really busy, they might be cross with me, they might not have good phone reception, they might have injured their thumbs, they might have run off to join the circus…. there are multiple possibilities, some more likely than others. We often jump to one conclusion pretty quickly though, without considering other options or weighing up the relative likelihoods of different scenarios. Those conclusions can be problematic if they are overly negative or self-critical – the ones where we assume someone hates us, for example.
Some useful things to try if you catch yourself jumping to a conclusion:
- how much do you believe that conclusion?
- try to weigh up the evidence for and against that conclusion
- force yourself to generate some other possibilities too
- weigh up the evidence for and against the new possibilities
- ask yourself what you would say to a friend if they were jumping to your original conclusion?
- check in again – how much do you believe that first conclusion now?