In trying to understand the psychological effect that the pandemic is having on people, I’ve recently realized that the number one thing that’s happening is that people are often misunderstanding the meaning of what’s going on. And the main reason for this is because it’s not a simple or even complicated problem but rather a highly complex one. In a sense, it is a “wicked problem” because people’s own beliefs and values are actually standing in the way of resolving it. Yet many are unaware of this.
Much of our suffering comes from wrong perceptions. To remove that hurt, we have to remove our wrong perception.Thich Nhat Hanh
Why are people misunderstanding the meaning of things? It’s because they are having wrong perceptions of what they are perceiving, as Thich Nhat Hanh notes above. As I noted before, we don’t see reality directly but rather a map of it, a worldview, which helps us make sense of it and navigate it like a GPS. But when that map becomes outdated, like it is for many today, it causes us to navigate and make choices that can potentially lead to deadly consequences.
Whenever we see another person take an action, he notes, we must remain aware that there could be a number of invisible motive forces behind it and we must be willing to listen in order to better understand them — not only out of the vain self-referential transactionalism masquerading as the Golden Rule, in the hope that others would be just as willing not to misunderstand our own motives by their perception and interpretation of our actions, but because correcting our wrong perceptions is a basic and vital form of caring for ourselves.Maria Popova
When you make the effort to listen and hear the other side of the story, your understanding increases and your hurt diminishes.Thich Nhat Hanh
As Maria Popova articulates above though, even though many of us can see the wrong perceptions that others having with reality, not many of us have the emotional capacity to listen to them to not only help them but help ourselves. For myself, I’m still struggling with this because it’s hard for me to see people I’ve known my entire life and for them to talk in a such distressing way that makes me think “Who are you? I don’t even know who you are!”
Yet at the same time, I realize that their wrong perceptions are probably being caused by the suffering they’re experiencing from their cognitive dissonance because their worldview is inadequate in helping them navigate a reality which requires them to deal with two opposing challenges at once.
Having said that though, we seriously need to figure out a way to help people level up their perception of their world though, updating their “internal GPS” if you will, because if we don’t, many more people will suffer even more so when climate change begins affecting us even more so.