Many of us react negatively when our needs aren't met in a relationship. Whether we're dealing with a friend, family member, or spouse, we tend to assume that the other party knows exactly what we need — or that they ought to know.
Working from that premise, when our needs go unmet, our next assumption tends to be that the person we're dealing with is lazy, selfish, inconsiderate, or simply doesn't care about us. Having arrived at such a conclusion, it's easy to start feeling annoyed, frustrated, and/or hurt. Left unchecked, these feelings can grow into deep-seated anger and resentment.
But what if we were to go back and check that first initial assumption? What if the other party isn't aware of your needs? What if your needs, which seem so obvious to you, aren't so obvious to everyone else?
Everyone has their own perspective.
It's important to understand that everyone has their own unique perspective. Therefore, things that seem obvious to one person won't always be obvious to someone else. If this seems hard to accept (after all, doesn't the word "obvious" mean plainly apparent?) consider the following scenario: a musician, a plant lover, and an artist all looking at the same painting. The musician might be the only one who notices the flute case on a shelf in the background. The plant lover might be the only one who notices that there are three distinct kinds of roses in a vase on the table. And the artist might be the only one who notices a particular brush stroke technique that appears to have been used.
They all think their observations are obvious, yet none of them notice the things that the others noticed. Each person's perspective — their background, priorities, and areas of sensitivity — impacts their perception.
Perspective impacts perception.
Just as it's important to understand that everyone has their own unique perspective, it's important to also understand that perspective impacts, and even shapes, perception. If that sounds a little bit muddled or unclear, it might help to draw a clear distinction between the two terms.
Perspective refers to where you're looking from. Even when people appear to be standing in roughly the same place (like the three aforementioned individuals standing side by side, looking at a painting hanging on the wall), there's much more to their position than where they're physically standing. Culture, family dynamics, upbringing, personality, temperament, preferences, and past experiences are just some of the many things that contribute to someone's perspective.
Perception refers to what you consciously see and observe when you look at something. Not only might your perception of something differ greatly from someone else's even though you're both looking at the same thing; one of you might not even notice it.
For instance, if you're extremely particular when it comes to cleanliness, the first thing you might notice upon visiting a restaurant is that it isn't pristine and well-maintained. Meanwhile, someone else who doesn't share that perspective (of being overly concerned about cleanliness) might not even notice a little bit of grime here and there.
When we understand perspective and perception, you can begin to see that your needs, which seem so obvious to you, might not be so obvious to the people around you. Therefore, someone's failure to meet your needs doesn't automatically mean that the person is lazy, selfish, or inconsiderate; or that they don't care about you. Instead, it may simply mean that the person has a perspective that differs from yours, and as a result, they're perceiving things entirely differently than you are.
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