Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Know What You're Thinking...

“We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.” ~ Stephen Covey

My whole family often jokes about the fact that Angel, my parents’ cat, has forgotten he was ever a feline. Let me explain. Aside from living a golden life, the poor soul is given specific times when he is allowed to go out and get back home. No matter what time he is told to be back, he steps through the door at the exact time!

Angel was adopted nineteen years ago into a household of adults, with no children present in the home. In no time at all, he was crowned baby of the family – spoiled rotten and overly controlled. My parents and sister assume they know what he thinks and how he feels, and if I ever remind them he is a cat, from their reaction one would assume I have said the unthinkable.

Of course, as I am writing, I realize that I’m the pot calling the kettle back. Just yesterday, my daughter kept picking up our kitten, and was very adamant that he wanted to play with her – “hiding” into the fridge of her play kitchen was his idea of playing hide-and-go-seek, in her opinion. I told her to leave him alone several times, and then lost my patience. I told her that the kitten didn’t like it when someone picked him up constantly, and he wanted some space for himself. Now, was I reading the cat’s mind, or was I merely expressing what I would have liked in his place?

Our assumptions of what anyone aside from ourselves likes or feels are largely based on our individual perception. Our perception is often molded on a blueprint drawn overtime in our minds, and is hardly accurate or truthful. For example, let’s say that someone runs into a person they like a lot. If this individual says anything nice to them, they immediately assume this person likes them back, even if the object of their affection was merely being sociable.

Similarly, if someone is extremely insecure, they see betrayal lurking everywhere regardless of how loyal their partner is, or how much reassurance they are offered. Ultimately, we can’t assume anything. We can guess, but it would be wise to sit back and ask ourselves if our perception is likely to have been affected by our individual filters, which are created by our upbringing and our sense of self. As Peter Cajander, a writer, once said, nothing has any meaning except the one we give to it - everything simply is.