“Perception” often does not get enough attention in 12 Step settings. Perception is how an individual sees or perceives something to be. For an example let’s use a banana. One side of it has brown spots on it and the other side is solid yellow. Picture someone sitting on either side of the banana. One person sees brown spots and the other person just sees yellow. They begin a conversation regarding the color of the banana. Each person swears that the banana is the color yellow or, the color of the spots that they see. They go back and forth discussing the color of the banana. Soon the conversation becomes heated as each person is adamant about the color of the banana. Finally, a full-blown shouting match takes place with each person trying to get the other to agree with them. They continue to disagree and refuse to see the other person’s view of the banana. What we have here is a difference in perception.
No one is right and no one is wrong. The banana is the same banana that both persons are looking at; it is just different on either side. If the two individuals had seen this, they could have avoided an all-out shouting match. The banana either had brown spots or was a solid yellow depending on what position each person was sitting in. This type of discrepancy occurs often among persons who are trying to communicate with one another.
Many an argument or ill feelings could be avoided if we learned to consider all sides of the object or subject we are trying to communicate about. Advice is often given to look at all sides of something before we speak about it. This way we do not risk having a difference just based on our own perception. We come to realize that there may be more to something than just my one-sided perception.
In learning to see from all sides we are more likely to not become angry or resentful at the other person involved in the exchange of information. It does not become “my way or the highway.” We realize that others can be right about something at the same time we are right about the same thing. Just think back to the banana with the different colored sides. In having an open mind in this respect our communication is apt to be more effective. We can also give the other party the benefit of the doubt.
In doing these things we are less likely to ruffle feathers of the other while still getting our perception heard or seen. This leads to better relationships with others. It also broadens out perspective and maybe we even learn something new! Communication is improved and we feel more understood. We are also able to understand the other person better than if we had held to our previous belief about something. When we are able to see both, or other sides of an issue it makes for more harmonious and productive conversations. A shouting match gets us nowhere. It is only when we respect the other enough that we are able to hear their perception. In taking this into consideration we build a more solid relationship with the other party involved. Remember: Do I want to be always right or sober? It is safe to say that we may also agree to disagree in an amicable way. This maintains both person’s dignity and avoids resentment.