Shaping what we see

Photo and study by Trafton Drew and Jeremy Wolfe

“…what we’re thinking about — what we’re focused on — filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see. So, Drew says, we need to think carefully about the instructions we give to professional searchers like radiologists or people looking for terrorist activity, because what we tell them to look for will in part determine what they see and don’t see.”

These words woke me up this morning. Daniel had turned up the volume on NPR as a way of waking me up, and so he could hear it from his closet. It intrigued me so I later looked up the news story on the internet. It fascinated me not only because of what it said, but because of the timing of the story in my life.

My online marriage coach – Coach James from Marriage Sherpa – always tells me to be careful of how I interpret the things Daniel says and does. He feels that Daniel has real, true love for me. I have believed for a long time that his OW was the love of his life, and he settled for me when he couldn’t have what he wanted. She dumped him when we first started college many years ago for another guy – the guy who she married and still married to today. When they reconnected through their alumni association, the sparks flew on their very first letters and they had a six year affair. When they broke up, they said they would love each other forever and hoped God would make a way for them to be together.

Coach James and I wrote about it again yesterday. This is what he said:

“I won’t try to argue or take that feeling away from you — I wish CK would do something to prove this wrong, to erase this -but I know that is in his court and that change is the hardest thing, that he seems very resistant to change. It is helpful to vocalize our feelings sometimes, to get them out and write them down, say them out loud to trusted friends. I do encourage you to question these things you feel certain are true. Building up strength and independence for yourself certainly isnt a bad thing — but be careful not to convince yourself of something you aren’t sure is true. I suspect the truth is more complicated than that.”

I went to bed with these words in my head and woke up this morning to the ending of that NPR story. It was about “inattentional blindness.” In a psychological study, a clipart picture of a man in a gorilla suit was pasted onto a typical xray of a lung being checked for cancer. 83 percent of the radiologists didn’t notice the gorilla. 83 percent! The discussion of the study was the quote at the top of this story. Filters – we all have them. It’s how we view the world. We need to be careful of our filters. My filters formed through the story of my husband’s affair through the eyes of their emails. How much of that is true? How much of it was their fantasy and not something they ever intended to become real? How much did they want to be real? The emotional reaction to it makes my filters very thick and deeply colored, I guess. I need to listen to Coach James and be aware of my filters as I make decisions that will affect many lives.

Here is a link to the NPR article, if you’d like to read it:


30 thoughts on “Shaping what we see

  1. Hi DJ
    Just started reading your blog. I have read so many articles that confirm this belief and it is difficult to really fathom it, but everything we experience is not real as so much of it is filtered by our own experiences. I try to remember this, but it’s not easy. I commend you for trying again with your husband, it takes a lot of courage. Lots of love, from my heart to yours.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Wounded – Welcome. I took many psychology courses in college and various trainings and workshops over the years which addressed this topic, so it wasn’t unfamiliar when I heard the words — I just needed the reminder. I agree it’s very easy to get caught up in situations and forget that we are all looking at things with our own filters.

      My husband’s filters make him almost blind to many things. Sometimes I wonder if we can really get past it all, but we are trying. Thank you for commenting.

      Love & prayers,

  2. cathmae says:

    DJ, this is very important information for anyone who has yet to be exposed to it, and a great reminder to anyone who has. Just considering our filters changes how we filter. I’ve been thinking a lot about how this applies to my own situation, and trying to imagine how various aspects of it would appear either unfiltered (probably not possible) or filtered very differently. Fascinating! Thanks!
    ps I hope you had a wonderful Lunar New Year.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hey Cathmae – That’s so true – just considering our filters changes how we filter. I needed the reminder yesterday to emphasize what my coach was telling me. It was perfect timing.

      Thank you – yes, we enjoyed a great New Year’s celebration, both with our martial arts group and with our family. We did all the Chinese traditions and ate a lot of Chinese food. Yum.

      Wishing you a happy and prosperous Year of the Snake!

      Love & prayers,

  3. Leise-Falyon says:

    Dear DJ,
    We are constantly creating our reality with our thoughts… If you believe that you are the best thing that ever happened to your husband, than he will believe that. If you believe that you are second best, then that is EXACTLY what he will BELIEVE!

    You have to know, with every cell in your being, that you are amazing! That you are incredible! That you are the best thing that ever happened to you husband! You are NOT second best, you are number one! If you change your thoughts, you will transform your world. Nobody can give you anything, until you give it to yourself!

    You will not feel your husband’s love, until you allow ‘You’ to love yourself!

    Most of us are never taught this by our parents. We instead, hear words that disparage us. One of the things I did, was to create a mantra for myself. I would say over and over again, “I am amazing and I deserve to receive love.” I said this a thousand times per day. I chanted this out loud picking up the house, cooking dinner, doing yoga, etc. Everywhere! I still say this. I have said it so many times that I believe it in my soul. Yesterday my husband said to me, “I am so glad I found you. You are the best thing that ever happened to me!” It took my breath away. I was completely caught off guard.

    Rewrite your programing and you will completely change your reality.

    With Love,


    • Not Over It says:

      This makes me cry, Leise. I’m going to try it.

      I have been able to maintain my self-esteem through this ordeal in some ways. I am confident in my ability to teach and help students. I am confident in my skills in dance, fitness, and martial arts. I am confident that I am a good mother and good friend. But where Daniel is concerned, I have no confidence at all. I will work at turning that around.

      Thank you!

      Love & prayers,

  4. […] was so moved by DJ’s blog from ‘Not Over It’ this week, it shook me […]

  5. How timely this is. My husband wrote me a letter today on how he would do things different and one of the things he wrote was “I am so very sorry that all this has taken place, I am sorry for all the pain, the hurt and the LIES I’ve given to you over the years…….. I want you and you alone as my wife, my soul mate, my lover. I do not EVER think of her, I don’t care about her, I don’t need her, I don’t miss her it was all a HORRIBLE ugly mistake that I allowed. My words that I spoke to her mean NOTHING, they were manipulation at the very core. I was LOST, BROKEN, and out of reality. I am SORRY with all of my heart and all of my being. ” My filter comes in because of the words he wrote her in his emails and the phone calls to her after I was so broken. I read it as love and he explains it as manipulation. I am praying God helps me see this as he puts it. If he lets me I’m going to post his whole letter. it was truly amazing! Blessings!

    • Not Over It says:

      That sure is amazing timing, HE. Manipulation, not love… interesting insight into his heart. That makes me smile.

      Seems like your trip was a good thing for both of you. Gave you space to think and realize how much you love each other… such a blessing.

      Love & prayers,

  6. tryinghard says:

    Can you post the link to the NPR piece. I love this post. Yes we do judge our world by what we know. That is why it is so important to read everything and gain knowledge. However I have found that readings with regards to psychological issues is NEVER ENDING. ULK I want to go back to reading my murder mystery novels 🙂

  7. tryinghard says:

    LOL well apparently I didn’t “see” the link. OY. This is poignant. I don’t know if you’ve read my comments over on EA Journey Blog but since reading this post i had a crystal clear epiphany. I read in order to solve your problems you need to “step outside your own story”. I struggled with that and I believe it means get away from the tree so you can see the forest. We need soooo many answers that we examine each and every word, answer, failure, trigger, excuse, behavior etc for those answers we need. It’s really very simple. We are married to cheaters. Now we may choose to try and understand why they cheated, but that is NOT going to change the fact that THEY ARE CHEATERS. It doesn’t make any difference if we understand it.

    They may not remember or say they don’t remember (and I believe in many cases they don’t remember details because they are in so much trouble all they can do is try to forget it in hopes that you too will forget it, it’s called projection (psych 101 :)) but they damn well remember the feeling they had when they were cheating. This they will NEVER forget. I really believe instead of analyizing them we need to analyze ourselves to figure out how to come to terms with living with a cheater.

    I’m doing ok. I will be happy when Valentines Day is passed. It’s trying it’s damndest to trigger me but I have told it to piss off 🙂

  8. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #1 (DJ, I’m on my antique phone that lets me post only a few words @ a time, so this msg will be comprised of snippets)

  9. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #2 I LOVE Coach James! He tells you what I said to you on your 2/14/12 post. However, I personally know how you feel.

  10. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #3 My story (incl a suicide attempt I didn’t previously tell you), along w/my LONG answer to a question an OW asked me,

  11. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #4 are at bottom of comments page @ on 2/8/13 Hysterical Bonding post.

  12. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #5 I’ll be @ a computer on 2/16 typing a professional post to FE (counteracting njuri) on his Today’s Conversation post,

  13. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #6 and I’m requesting the sisterly solidarity (& back-up posts) from DJ, Teresa, & other pissed off BSs you know!

  14. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #7 (njuri hasn’t been a BS, & writes like an OW who’s NOT fond of FE’s W!) My msg to FE will NOT directly refer to njuri

  15. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    #8(End) I’ll send you & the girls details on 2/16, DJ, on your “Shaping” post here. 🙂

  16. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    Okay DJ & Friends, I posted under njury’s “I hear you dude” comment on FE’s “Today’s” post. Please Join Me!

  17. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    Way to go, S! Fellow BSs, please keep the comments flowing! 😀

  18. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    Btw S was tougher than I was & I LOVE IT! I tried to keep my tone down b/c I come across as angry & aggressive most days

  19. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    Also, my “njury” rebuttals on previous FE posts were the reasons for her “I’ll hold my true feelings” quip on “Today’s”.

  20. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    To see my “angry & aggressive” side, please rd my comments to “Bad Husband”

  21. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    DJ & Friends, I HADN’T read S’s entry b4 I RUSHED to write my [typo-filled 😦 ] entry to FE’s “Todays” post re: njuri!

  22. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    Rushing to beat the library computer timer b4 it ran out, I didn’t notice when I posted that S had ALREADY posted.

  23. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    When I saw S’s post I was happy! It’s flawlessly written; & covers all the bases more than my meager entry EVER could!

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