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VATIC Expressions: Truth, Transparency, Transformation

Volume 1, Winter 2015 Issue. A division of Vatic Publishing®, LLC. 

Perception is Everything

by Brian O'Neil

I have arrived at the point in my life where things matter on another level. I find myself questioning everything that I know in search of a truth that I can hold on to and build upon.  I have also realized that many of the definitions in my mind for common words that I have used all of my life aren't as exact as a definition that one might find in the dictionary for the same word. I found this intriguing.

I once taught a class that highlighted this very fact. I asked my audience to participate in a word experiment. I had them close their eyes and told them that I would say a word, and they would see an image in their mind relating to that word. I said the word “dog,” and waited a couple of minutes to allow time for the image to emerge clearly. I then began to ask random people what they saw. The first person saw a Doberman, the second a Chihuahua, others a German Shepherd, and so on. We learned that even though everyone heard the same word, the word produced different definitions in the mind of each individual. Even if persons saw the same breed of dog, there were still distinct differences in the details that each used to describe the dog they saw. We concluded, and agreed, that definitions are important. It became obvious that you can have two people thinking that they are communicating the same thing because they are using the same words, however a connection is never made because they are actually seeing (understanding) things differently.

It is possible to spend hours talking about a subject and never agree. In a marriage counseling session, I looked up the word commitment in the dictionary, which says: the state of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. Synonyms- dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity. I asked the couple who I was counseling what their definition of commitment was. Neither was as exact as the full definition of the word commitment that I found in the dictionary, including its synonyms. I was able to see immediately that they would encounter issues in this area of the relationship and each would think that they were committed because they were still in the house together. Not because they were dedicated, devoted, loyal, faithful, etc. If my definition of commitment is bringing home the check and faithfully going to work, it could explain my lack of devotion, allegiance, dedication, etc. I am dedicated to my job, but not to you. I may be loyal to my friends, but not to you. 

I concluded that healthy relationships are the result of healthy definitions, and understanding how those definitions apply to your situation. Each person must be clear on their own definitions and the definitions of the persons to which they relate. This cannot be left to assumption. I have encountered this a number of times in my marriage. I believe I am exploring this subject at this point in my life as a result of the many times that I dropped the ball. Many people are suffering from this rather frustrating, but easily solvable, issue. Needless fights can be avoided, and the release of something beautiful and worthwhile can be enjoyed by describing your dog.

 © 2015 Brian O'Neil

Comment? Leave one here.

Thursday, January 14, 2016 Harvette at hkragland@***.com said:

Pastor Brian O'Neil

Awesome word!!