Friday, February 27, 2015

That White/Blue/Gold Dress And The Fragility of Perception

Is it white with gold or blue with brown? This confusingly colored dress is gaining tons of attention and causing waves all over the internet. Wired has a great article as to why the dress pictured above is causing so many disagreements. You can read it here:

Wired Article

While looking at this picture with my wife and disagreeing as to which color the dress actually is, I was reminded of how important perception really is. Perception is a way of seeing, regarding, or understanding something. While our perceptions may or may not line up with reality, they are very real to us. It's ok when our perceptions cause us to disagree about the color of a dress. It's not as fun when our perceptions cause us very real damage at work and home. Here are some commonly held perceptions that could be causing you great damage right now:

1)They are smarter.

It’s easy to assume that others know more than you. It’s impossible to know everything and it’s inevitable that you will run into somebody who knows a bit more about a particular subject than you do. That doesn’t mean that they are smarter than you. It just means that they know more about that specific area. The question you have to ask yourself isn’t, “Am I smart?”, but “Do I want to do the work it takes to know more about this topic?”. Life is short and you’ll never know everything about everything, but you can know a lot about some things. The key is to choose well the things you invest your time in. You are not less intelligent simply because you don’t know a ton about Mayan art or Andrew Jackson. Mayan and Jacksonian scholars are not smarter per se, they are just great in their chosen areas. Find what areas interest you, and dive in there. Don't let the interests of others drive you to try to learn things that you don't care about, so that you can feel "smart". Be yourself, that's what everyone really values about you anyway. (By the way, if you have friends that are constantly spouting random facts to try to prove they are smarter than you, it could be time to get new friends....)

2)They matter more.

This is a huge misconception that runs amok in Christian circles. The thought goes, “the way to love others is to remember that they matter more than you.” This thought sounds humble, but it’s actually destructive. You are just as valuable as anyone you relate to. If others are more important than you, then you aren’t loving them when treat them well, you are just doing what you should do. Love is what happens when I know that we are equal in value, but I choose to sacrifice my time, attention, money, etc.. to show you care and respect anyway. Your love matters because you matter.  

3)You are only as good as what you do.

This sounds so good, but it’s ultimately a broken thought. Action is important. Good intentions without follow-through don’t really do anyone any good, but that doesn’t mean that you should only feel good about yourself when your performance is great. No one performs well all of the time. Sometimes we don’t even try as  hard as we should. That doesn’t change our inherent value,however, not to God, and it shouldn’t to us either. Rather than using your performance to determine your value, remember that understanding your value is the key to your performance. If you are constantly trying to achieve in order to feel good about yourself, you will end up either exhausted or demoralized. If you wake up trusting that if God loves you (and He does), then you can be ok with you as well, your day and your performance will look completely different.

Perceptions are powerful, but they can be corrected when they don't reflect the truth. Take some time today to check what perceptions may be driving you.

And the dress is blue.

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