But this thought may cross our mind that if life is all about the choices we make, our perceptions, our realities so what actually is the real fact? What are perceptions? Perception leads to influencing our decision, which leads to difference of opinions, which further leads to different realities. And this brings us back to the question, what is perception? The cycle continues…
When I tried to look for these answers first thing that I did was to check the dictionary and the dictionary defines perception as the way you think about or understand someone or something and the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses.
As the definition is quite fuzzy I did some research. One of the intriguing viewpoints I came across was about Perception Vs Reality*: Reality is a concept unique to each one of us. Can anything be classed as real when our perceptions differ greatly on so many things? Just because we see something in particular way does not make it so. There is no such thing as reality. There is only ’your’ version of its which is essentially your perception.
Jack Grabon, who practices spiritual therapy in NYC talks about untangling perception from reality .He states that perception is the lens through which we view reality:-ourselves, others and the world around us. However, the lens often gets confused with what is being viewed through it and reality is the true state of things. We often don’t realize how our perceptions cloud reality; they seem like one and the same.
(*A Soda (2006) at Unlimited Choice P Vs R)
In life everything that you see, or hear, or experience in any way possible is centered to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe is centered to you specifically.
A perfect example which I read once is: If you leave a prisoner and an aristocrat in a jungle for a day. For the prisoner it will mean freedom and happiness and for the aristocrat it will mean hardship and struggle. So both of them have a different reality based on their life experiences and perceptions.
In his article Tony D.Clarks(Lifehack Expert) talks about how things aren’t always what they seem. Marketers and magicians rely on this fact to make to you see things- the way they want you to see them. Artists do too. He quotes an example of Julian Beever’s, British chalk artist’s amazing pavement drawings. Julian Beever utilizes the Trompe l’oeil technique, which means “trick the eye” in French. He uses his drawings stills to create a perception. Like an optical illusion, our mind attempts to fill in the details of something it either thinks it already knows, or doesn’t quite understand, this works out fine, when that’s the intention-momentarily letting our world shaped for fun. But wandering through life, letting others create perceptions, can make for a very unfulfilling life.
To emphasize this point, Dr.Paul White in his article “Perception is reality” talks about riveting facts which everyone can relate to. He argues that Perception is Reality phrase is not always true. There is a verifiable reality that exists .And sometimes our perceptions do not match reality. He talks about how in day to day life, we see mismatch between perception and reality more practically. The mismatch leads to miscommunication, mismatch between feelings reaction and reality, misinterpretation of a situation, inaccurate beliefs about the way world is, misattribution of motive. When it comes to miscommunication, he gives a classic example of the scenario: ‘you said…” “I did not. I said…” “Oh, but I thought you said….” “No. What I said (thought I did) was…” “But I though you said….” If we stick with the perception is reality proposition, this leads to major problems in communication. This is true for both parties. For the initial speaker, ”what I thought” does not necessarily equal “what I said”. And “What I said” is not necessarily the same thing as “what I meant”. Similarly, for the listener, ”what I heard you say” may not be equivalent to “what you said”. So perception may be perception but it may not be what actually occurred.
Probably the most damaging form of misinterpretation is the case of attributing a certain motive to someone else’s action, and being quite far off the mark. This is true and I am sure all of us must have experience this at some time or the other. Most of us aren’t fully clear why we do what we do, let alone being able to understand the motives of another. To avoid such situation it always best to ask the other person,” Why did you…?” It can be helpful to start with a polite phrase, I’m confused. Can you help me understand why you…?” This attribute will help not to have any misunderstanding as we often get bent out of shape or steamed with others because we attribute a reason for their action or inaction that is not accurate.
I feel Perception is what gives us our uniqueness and Reality is defined by one’s own perception. Adding on to this, I would like to share a quote from ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius- “Your ability to control your thoughts-treat it with respect. It’s all that protects your mind from false perceptions-false to your nature, and that of all rational beings. It makes thoughtfulness possible and affection for other people, and submission to the divine.” This thought sums up that in the end ‘you’ can only control your choice and your perception. As in life, you will realize that most disagreements are caused by different perceptions that created different realities.
So next time when you hear this quote that “Perception is Reality”- remember it’s not always true rather I would rephrase this as “Your perception is Your Reality”.