Are You Seeing What You Want to See?

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Published Date|
July 29, 2016

Are You Seeing What You Want to See?

I think I speak for all of us when I say that we paint a picture in our minds of what we want our lives to look like.  

Whether it’s the day we graduate, the day you get married, the day you bring your first puppy home, or buying your first home, we create the perfect portrait of how we want to see ourselves at that specific moment. Although it is wonderful to imagine these things (and all of us still will), it’s easy to alter our perceptions of realty by doing so.

We often fall into a risky illusion of “seeing what we want to see”.

This is when our perceptions of reality conform to our desires. When we want to see ourselves in a particular manner, we make it our goal to do so. We search for information to confirm our goal and ignore information that might not support our goal the way we want it to. By doing this, we alter our perceptions of realty… We see what we want to see, and disregard the unpleasant.

It’s difficult to ignore this illusion because it often runs in our minds unconsciously.

For example: Imagine your goal, whatever it may be, was a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle.  To more efficiently put the puzzle together you may start by sorting out all the edge pieces. However, because you are so focused on only finding the edge pieces, you may miss out on some other significant pieces. These may have even given you some helpful clues to this massive puzzle. Likewise, in our own lives, we look for associated schemas within our own goals—causing us to “give a blind eye” to other vital clues surrounding us.

So how do you not fall into the illusion?

Honestly, it’s hard. My best advice is to be conscious of your goals, and analyze all aspects of a situation to avoid seeing what you want to see. There are many approaches you can take when trying to achieve your goals. You can also ask someone who knows you well, this could be a family member, partner, or best friend, to play devil’s advocate every once and a while. This will make you re-analyze information and make sure it’s not just what you want to see.

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