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Blue or gold? Blame the brain

Have you ever been so frustrated with someone who doesn’t seem to be picking up what you’re putting down? They don’t understand what you’re saying and you just can’t seem to make them see your side no matter how emphatically you try? Are they even listening?

This is a constant battle in my marriage. My husband says something, I get offended or upset. My response flabbergasts him.  How did I get ‘that’ from ‘this’, he wonders? Then I think he’s backtracking. Surely he’s realized he’s put his foot in it. But no, he stands firmly by what he’s saying and can’t understand why I’m starting to raise my voice and throw things.

My “aha’ moment

The other night at a dinner party, someone mentioned the “Yannie versus Laurel” test.  Click here to see what I’m talking about and tell me, did you hear Yanni or did you hear Laurel? Greg (the husband in question here) clearly heard Laurel. I clearly heard Yanni. We were both listening to the same audio file at the same time! Yet I could not hear Laurel and for the life of him, he could not hear Yanni. It was frustrating – how could he not hear what I was hearing? Why was he being so difficult?

How are we so black and white on blue or gold? #thedress

relationships, marriage, how to argue, miscomunicationRemember the famous blue dress? Some people could only see a gold dress and others only saw a blue dress. It was a polarizing experience. There was no middle ground. They say people either love coriander (me) or they think it tastes like soap and they despise it. There are apparently no fence-sitters on this issue.

How about the old sketch where some people saw an old woman while others saw a young woman? How is it possible we can look and hear the same thing and yet come away with completely different opinions and perspectives? And even more so – we can’t even hear or see what the other person sees even if we try? How are we so black and white when it comes to blue or black?

Blame the brain

blue or gold dress, relationshipsEvidently it’s simple science. A perception issue. We process information differently when it enters our brain. ASAP SCIENCE nails it for us by explaining a phenomenon known as Colour Constancy. It’s all coming from the brain – not the heart. We don’t try or want to see something as one or the other. Our brain is telling us what it sees based on assumptions around the dress when we see it. It could be the lighting around it or time of day, etc. There are many factors that affect our interpretation of an object.

Whatever the factors the fact remains we are not seeing the dress the same as everyone else. We are applying our own assumptions and interpretations to drive what we see.

Problem solved?

Now that we know this, it’s possible that my husband isn’t wrong 100% of the time. It’s possible that he is saying one thing and I am hearing it differently. It’s possible that what someone says to us and what we hear are literally being mixed and jumbled by our brains, not our minds or our own agendas. I’m not saying this lets us off the hook when we have a misunderstanding but it sure has opened my mind up to the possibility that sometimes I have to take a step back before I react with my emotions and check in with my brain or ASAP SCIENCE first.

So now the challenge becomes, how do I get him to see the blue dress? I can’t. It’s a great insight into our relationship dynamics and it’s almost a relief to know that some of our miscommunication comes down to science.

How does this help?

Perhaps it makes things a little easier in those intense moments to blame the brain. Maybe much of our miscommunication really does come from literally seeing things differently and not from a controllable difference in opinions. I used to think that when I said ‘black’, Greg said ‘white’ but maybe we truly do see things as different colours, words and sounds. (NOTE: This does NOT excuse someone from calling out the wrong name in bed.)

The struggle for power can be an issue in some relationships and it helps to know that not everything we say or do comes from a need for control or a need to ‘win’ but rather something a little more out of our conscious control.  Perspective, in this case is something we can’t always change.

Knowing this, we can strip away some of the emotion and apply more logic and understanding to help solve our issues quicker and with fewer fights or tears. We see the intent is not to be combative.  Sometimes we truly do see and hear things completely differently and it’s not personal. If we replace our ego with science we might actually get somewhere.

Now that gives us something to work with.

Off I go to buy a blue dress!

Does this happen to you? Am I alone in thinking this might just bring a better understanding to many different types of relationships? Did you see the blue or the gold dress?

 

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