10 Barriers to Clear Perception
"Everything is self-evident,â€ said Rene Descartes, mathematician and philosopher.
Everything is self-evident if you have high emotional intelligence and are good
at reality-testing. If youâ€™re clouded with emotions, stuck in the past, inflexible,
inauthentic, or inept at verbal and nonverbal communication, alas, everything is
When you develop your emotional intelligence, and the ability to understand and
manage your emotions and those of others, you see things clearly. You can avoid
the following pitfalls to accurate perception and smart choices:
- How you WISH things were.
- How you think things SHOULD be.
- Believing that how things have always been in the past is the way they are now,
and ever will be.
- Assumptions about situations in-the-moment which seem at the surface level to be
similar to experiences and people in the past. Assumptions always need to be checked
- Your persona or inauthentic, unintegrated self, which shifts according to mood,
emotion, person and situation leaving you without compass or anchor.
- Your ability to delude yourself because of lack of self-knowledge. 7. Self-sabotaging
because of lack of self-knowledge, self-management and low EQ.
- Fear, anger, jealousy and other strong emotions which distort thinking.
- Hearing what you WANT to hear or NEED to hear instead of whatâ€™s actually being said.
Failing to take into account the other person's nonverbal behavior.
- Distortion from relying on other peopleâ€™s perceptions of reality and/or "catching"
IN SUM: We are our emotions. They influence our perception of reality. The more
you understand yourself and your own emotions, the better you can understand their
effect upon your perceptions of reality and manage them so you can make smart choices.
Emotional Intelligence, being able to process your emotions, means understanding
which of your three brains is operating (reptilian, limbic or neocortex), and which
brain[s] you need to be in. Emotions guide us and give us information, but sometimes
we need to get to the neo-cortex to make the decision. For instance, you may be
angry and feel like hitting someone, but your â€œthinking brainâ€ will tell you this
isnâ€™t a wise course of action. By the same token, you may love someone (limbic)
while your neo-cortex keeps giving you reasons not to.
The most important decisions generally need to be made with both the heart and the
mind. Here are some examples.
If you strongly desire to like the person youâ€™re dealing with, or if you have a
need to like them, you may miss whatâ€™s actually going on. This is whatâ€™s happened
when you hear someone repeat an anecdote, saying, â€œHe did [something mean] BUT HEâ€™S
REALLY A NICE PERSON.â€ Itâ€™s clear to you the person mentioned is NOT â€œa nice person,â€
because nice people donâ€™t do things like that, and you wonder how the person telling
you the anecdote can be so mislead.
Another good example is one I read on a Russian bride website. It was giving advice
to the male suitors re: such important factors as wanting or not wanting to have
children. They cautioned that because the need of the Russian woman to come to the
US might be so strong, she would delude the man, because she had truly deluded herself.
She would say what the man wanted to hear even if she didnâ€™t mean it.
How do you guard yourself against such disillusionment? High EQ, time, reflection,
feedback, intuition, and understanding people and their emotions.
HEARING WHAT YOU NEED OR WANT TO HEAR
This can happen when the outcome is very important to you. If itâ€™s with a loved
one, you may fear rejection or loss and therefore your emotions interfere with what
youâ€™re hearing. Someone whoâ€™s been rejected a lot, for instance, will read things
into what theyâ€™re hearing, finding rejection in places where it doesnâ€™t exist.
Because of their emotional state, they may jump to conclusions that arenâ€™t warranted,
or over-react. For instance, if their partner tells them â€œI donâ€™t like it when you
talk that way to my mother (which is a behavior which can be changed),â€ they may
hear, â€œI donâ€™t love youâ€ (which is a condemnation of you as a person). This sort
of distortion is why itâ€™s good to repeat back what you think youâ€™ve heard in heated
discussions where the outcome is important. If you say, â€œLet me make sure I understood
what you said. You said youâ€™re angry because Iâ€¦â€ this gives the other person the
opportunity to clarify what they said or meant, and to correct your misperceptions.
This is vital to good communication.
Itâ€™s common with couples for each person to correct the other saying, â€œBut thatâ€™s
not what you meantâ€ or â€œThatâ€™s not what you said.â€ Thereâ€™s never a place for this.
By checking it out with the person you give them a chance to self-correct, to correct
you, and to establish clear communication about important things.
If you arenâ€™t clear about what brain is working, i.e., reptilian, limbic or neocortex,
you can do yourself in. One reason coaching is helpful is because it can help you
clarify what youâ€™re really after, and what fears and obstacles youâ€™re throwing in
your own path. If you want something but never seem to be able to attain it, it
could be that you fear success, or fear failure, or arenâ€™t clear about what you
want. An example would be wanting to marry someone because you love them (limbic)
but talking yourself out of it (neocortex) because your best friend doesnâ€™t like
him. Your best friend may or may not be perceiving correctly, and is certainly entitled
to their opinion, but they arenâ€™t the person who will be marrying this man, you
are. Therefore you need to get centered in your own feelings and perceptions.
DISTORTION FROM â€œCATCHINGâ€ EMOTIONS
Emotions are contagious. We vary in our ability to protect ourselves from â€œcatchingâ€
them, and in our ability to stay centered in our own emotions.
An example of this happened to me the other day. I told a friend I was planning
to drive from San Antonio to Houston to pick up my sister at the Houston airport
for us to continue on to a vacation in Alabama. Her flight would arrive at Houston
International and we both had cell phones. I planned to pick her up out front. It
seemed simple enough to me, but the person I related this to said it was â€œvery difficultâ€
and not to try it.
I checked it out with a third person who travels through the Houston airport all
the time to find out what on earth the first friend was getting at. The third person
said â€œJust be sure and bring at least $4 worth of quarters for the tollway, and
aside from that, there should be no problem.â€
It turned out I had no trouble whatsoever. When I checked back in with the first
person, he was incredulous. If I had listened to his perception of reality, I wouldnâ€™t
have done something that was actual quite easy to do. Iâ€™m sure you can think of
many examples in your own life.
This is another situation coaching is good for. People tend to bring their own fears
into advice-giving, and think about what they would do and how they would feel instead
of being able to see if from your point of view. Whatever your goal, whatever you
have in mind, there is someone out there who would be afraid of it.
Whether you want to be an entrepreneur, or marry someone from another culture, move
to a Caribbean Island, or write a novel, or bungee jump, there is someone to whom
this is a frightening thing who will do their best to discourage you because of
their own feelings about it.
Developing your Emotional Intelligence has many benefits. Give it a try! Most people
get immediate results and realize immediate improvements in their lives.
For Further Reading