Do you like getting your picture taken? Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and said, “UGH!|” or even “YUCK!?” A few years ago, during a research study, participants were shown pictures of different people. I can’t remember exactly what the researchers were studying, but the pictures weren’t part of the study, except as part of the “control.” As is often the case when one starts looking into human behaviour, the study was derailed a bit when the researchers noticed the reactions to the pictures. If a participant saw a picture of someone else they rated it as pleasant or a good shot. Yet, if the participant happened to be shown a picture of themselves, they rated the picture as terrible or a poor shot, even if the picture was a very flattering one. At first the researchers thought the responses - which, again, had nothing to do with what they were actually researching - were just a result of our very human tendency to be harder and more critical of ourselves than we are of others. And, while that was definitely a factor, they realized that there was something more involved. After switching gears on their research and running more studies, what they finally discovered was that the reason most of us are not happy with photos of ourselves - and this also includes people such as models who are photographed for a living - is because that is not how we believe we look! We literally can’t see how we look to others, except by looking at photographs, but our perception of what we really look like is based on our reflections in a mirror, which is a REVERSED image. Thus, we aren't happy with photos of ourselves because they don’t match the visual patterns we are used to seeing every day in our mirrors. When we see everything that is going on around us in the world today, and bounce between the extremes of despair and happiness, we should ask ourselves if what we are seeing is a true image of what is there, or are we seeing a reflection that just needs a little help to be turned around to create a better view? Sometimes just looking at situation from the other side can make all the difference.
Beth's Ponderings The problem with trial and error - especially in terms of my current health journey - is that it is a frustrating trial filled with seemingly endless error. Just when I think I might be making some headway and moving forward, something happens, and I feel like I’m back at square one. It doesn’t help that my biggest challenge is food, which has so many variables and variety, and isn’t straightforward at all, especially since I can’t just quit eating! I recently read that there are no failures in science, only assumptions that may or may not give you the results you expect, and if the results aren't what was expected, then the assumptions merely need adjusted. That is a nicer perspective to view my journey specifically, and our lives generally. Saying “I failed again” or “I was wrong again” isn’t as helpful to the situation as saying “hmmmm, okay, that wasn’t the result I expected.” The first two comments tend to create a dead end, whereas the third comment provides an opportunity to try another option, and another option, and so on. And we all make assumptions about everything, not just scientists. Because we humans want to know how our future will turn out, we assume that we know exactly what will happen, before it happens, because the previous nine times we did a particular task, the result was the same, so we assume that this tenth time will also be the same. But, it might not be, and in all probability won’t be. We don’t know ahead of time, because we can’t know all the variables that are in play at that particular moment - variables both in and out of our control. One tiny tweak from the time before can give us a vastly different result. In fact, all ten times we do something might give us ten totally different results as we don’t live in sterile vacuums where nothing changes and everything is always constant. So, instead of “trial and error” maybe we should start calling it “assumptions and options?” After all, at it's heart, life is just one giant experiment as we learn and grow each day.