A couple weeks ago, I posted “Do you believe everything you think?” People probably saw that ominous quote and were like… wtf? This blog post is about perception. I feel I need to write about this because we hear it all the time, “Perception is reality.” I remember teachers telling me not to be myself based on how I would perceive. I have people in my ear to this day worried about perception. It’s a tool of assimilation to confine someone to someone else’s reality.
The Difference Between Perception and Reality
I like to argue that perception is actually not real. I can easily make this argument by simply defining perception. In short, perception is the understanding or interpretation of something. The definition of reality is the state of things as they actually exist. Objective and not subjective to human decisions or conventions. That’s the total opposite of perception. Perception occurs entirely in the mind, while reality doesn’t need the mind to exist to be present.
Perception is actually what we use to view reality. It is the method by which we think, speak about, and take action on what we view as reality. Our egoic brain causes us to believe that our perception of a certain thing is actually real when it’s not. Our perception has a cognitive bias that relies on self-interest, prior knowledge, and past experiences. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman pointed out over 100 different cognitive biases that skew a person’s view of reality.
When Bias Blinds Us
You can see these biases in the things that are being fought for today. Because you have never been profiled or treated differently because of skin color doesn’t mean that racism doesn’t exist. Just because you haven’t been sick doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear a mask because the rona is fake news. Even with proof, disbelievers choose to hold on to their biases without seeing what’s clearly in front of them.
Don’t get me wrong, positive perspectives are wonderful. If you think that you are better than what reality tells you, you’re likely to be a better person because your mind has allowed it. It’s not wrong to have an inflated view of your capabilities because the belief will help you achieve. The problem occurs when your positive illusions become delusions. When you start to think far from the actual. This is how people fail to try to commit to unattainable goals. Too much of this can cause harm to your mental health.
When multiple people think too far away from reality (most debates nowadays), there’s no chance that the two parties will come to an agreement. You see it in our polarizing politics. You see it every time you watch a “Karen” video. Influencer marketing even plays a role in believing in someone’s perception, but not taking the time to actually look for the answers yourself. The fact that every issue that gets brought up is a political issue is crazy to me, but that’s just perception. Mine and yours.
How to Better Perceive Reality
The best thing we can do is make sure our thinking is as close to reality as possible. The very first action to take is to not make the assumption that your perception is reality. Unlearn that. The next thing to do is be respectful of other people’s perspectives. It may not be the truth, but it’s their truth. When your perception has failed you, it’s not a bad thing to admit you were wrong. It actually takes a lot of courage than being stubborn.
Challenge your perspectives. Ask questions that might make you second guess what you actually think. Seek validation. I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. I have perspectives that I believe are true, but I don’t fully act on them until someone I trust tells me that my gut instinct was right. Then I’m running. The overarching message is to be flexible. Don’t believe that your perception is reality because you’re probably wrong.