Perception and Memory in Everyday Life

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As a writer, I always try to seek out the truth, the whole of the truth.  I may not like all I see, as some parts of this truth I pursue may not be pleasant, or could even be downright ugly, but, in all honesty, I must view it all and not just the parts with which I feel comfortable.

To do otherwise would be to lock myself in a room of perpetual darkness and pretend that the ugly parts don’t exist.  I feel I must pull it all out in the bright sunlight and let the light of truth illuminate it in its entirety.  There is no other way to clearly see it.

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And yet I must proceed with caution as the tricks our minds play on us are truly something to be reckoned with and cannot be ignored.

Now, this is intended solely as a useful reminder from one layperson to another that we should always bear in mind the impact of the way in which we perceive and also how we remember things. It is not intended to be a heavy, psychological treatise on this very complex and changing issue, but merely as a simple and practical reminder for everyone to stop, and take a moment to think, before involving themselves in a disagreement that logically cannot be truly resolved.

From what I have read, it seems a fairly well-supported fact that we all perceive reality a little differently and that our memories are not an absolute measure of truth.  Before we are tempted to criticize or disagree, remember that others are only recounting a single version of the truth and remembering only the ever-changing reinterpretation of a particular memory.

I would hate to tell you how many times I have seen friendships, and even romantic relationships damaged or destroyed by a difference of opinion on this very subject.  Accusations of lying, being stupid, or crazy fly across the table in a heated and needlessly angry debate.  Normally, we have no airtight documentation of what objectively occurred during that period of time, so each person stubbornly stands by his version of the truth allowing for no possibility of compromise.  Unfortunately, it is only a matter of opinion, which could easily be cured, but people so hate to be wrong that they often go to extremes to defend their particular position.

If we remember that each person is not a perfect recording device, but an imperfect human being limited by the inadequacies of the human brain, we would all be much better off. Actually, the world would be a far better place if we would show tolerance for deficits that we all share simply as a result of how we are made. We are, after all, only human.

4 Comments
  1. Daphne Shapiro says

    It’s true; how can we teach our surroundings, but especially ourselves, not to have absolute opinions?
    I wish I knew…
    Compliments for a well-written piece.

  2. mark10210 says

    Thank you for the comment, Daphne! It is certainly difficult to avoid holding on dearly to our absolute opinions, but we must remember that others can hold just as tightly their version of ‘what really happened’ and it is an argument that can have no winner, only two losers.

  3. Joyce White says

    Our memories seem to be clear on one day and different on another. Our brain is tricky that way. It is sad people seem to remember the bad days longer than the good days. I enjoyed the article. I wish I had written it.

  4. Mark Abrams says

    Thank you for your kind comment! I’m sorry it took so long for me to reply, but I moved and all that entails. Look for more from me in the near future. I’ll be submitting a memoir, a fictional piece, and whatever may cross my mind as interesting!

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