When it comes to conflicting views, we all like to think we see things as they really are. We rarely do. None of us like to think we’re the problem. We often are.

We all see the world around us through our own filtered lens. Our perception is our own reality; expecting anyone in particular to share our views is pure folly. We’ll never know the outcome until we put it out there and engage, which carries risk.

Human perception is never objective. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t seem that way at the time. Never underestimate the human capacity for self-delusion. We all have funny ways of making observations and facts fit our own subjective narrative or viewpoint. Or arguing a point we know on some level to be untrue.

Most family or office disputes fit that description. They are typically about differences in perception, beliefs, communication and how our brains are wired. At times, those differences can be challenging and exciting. Other times they can be perplexing and tedious. Sometimes they spark anger and violence.

Don’t get me wrong. Some types of conflict are highly constructive and necessary for good decision-making and truth-seeking. But it takes a certain process and discipline to keep it constructive – to differentiate supportable facts and judgements from subjective observations and opinions.   

Those who look at issues critically and question popular dogma are rare, especially in an era where most cower in tribal safe spaces of like-minded clones. Those who question their own views and beliefs are even rarer.

The older I get, the more I get off on being alone, especially in nature. Exploring. On a hike. On a trail run. At the beach. Working on my property. Or writing, like I’m doing now. With no human contact, there’s no discussion. No friction. No conflict. Just a powerful illusion of peace and control.

Of course, it is an illusion since, when it comes to nature, we’re never really in control. Whatever peace we feel in the moment can all-too-easily be disrupted the next. I’ve had some close calls, to be sure. Still, with no one else around, our own perception is the only one that matters. There is a certain calm, comfort and clarity to that.

That said, life alone can get pretty lonely. Life is better with others. Conflict, debate, viewpoints, delusion and all, it’s worth the risk to engage.

Image credit Chuck Patch / Flickr