It's All About Perception

“We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
— Anaïs Nin

What does this mean? How is this even possible? I mean there are certain facts and certain realities in life. Certain things are just obvious and clear. Can’t we tell things apart?

Well, let us hold that thought for a moment and think of a shortsighted person with no glasses on. What would they see?

They would see everything blurry from a distance, and things would start to get clearer and in focus as they get closer to them. You can see them struggle to find their way, you can hear them stumble on things they can’t see, you can sense the uneasiness and frustration they must be facing. Their visual perception is simply affected by their sight limitation, and let’s face it, there would be a serious problem if they actually believed what they saw and took it for a fact.

Now if this visual misperception was corrected with prescription glasses, would their perception of the world be the same? Would they still face the same difficulties or would they surpass their limitations and start living?

Now, is this “6” a six? Or an upside down nine? It is just about the point of view from where you stand and what perspective you are looking from. Would you judge someone who says it’s a nine just because it looks like a six to you?

Let us meditate the shortsightedness that lies inside our minds while our limitations affect our perception of the real world, what would that be like? We get the same outcomes as we struggle to find our way, stumble upon things we can’t see, and suffer the uneasiness and frustration as a result. But it is really funny when it comes to human nature; the less they know the more they are sure and decisive. The more limited they are with certain ideologies, the more they are judgmental and condemnatory.

It is the limitation of our knowledge, experience, ideologies and beliefs that affects our perception of the world and what eventually becomes our map of reality.

What is Reality anyway?

If you think that you have a clear answer to this question, you might want to think again. What is real to me is not necessarily real to you, and vice versa. This is rendered in our fears, our dreams, our boundaries, our abilities and so on and so forth. We only know what we believe we know. We believe what we choose to believe. We are more likely to choose beliefs and ideologies that are familiar to us. Few people are willing to understand and accept that there are other realities in life and other perceptions of realities, simply because people think and perceive things differently.

How do we judge?

Good or bad? Vice or virtue? Winning or losing? Black or white? A lot or a little? Is the glass half empty or half full?

In order to get plausible answers to such questions, we shall add one question, and that is: “According to whom?”

When we keep this question in mind, the answers start to make sense, because there is no one universal reality that applies to all people. We are different and each one of us is driven by his/her own individual perceptions. It’s always good to ask people what they precisely mean. One good method is to ask for definitions of the terms they use; let them explain their perception of the words in order to avoid miscommunication for they might interpret things differently.

In physics, movement is relative to a reference. If someone was sitting in a car and the car was moving at high speed, would you consider the person in the car moving or sitting still? Well, it depends on the reference: according to whom or what? If I am also sitting in the car, to me, that person would seem sitting still. On the other hand, if you are standing outside the car looking at us, then, to you, we are moving. It's a matter of the reference on which we are founding our interpretation, i.e. perspective and perception.

How we interpret things has nothing to do with reality itself, it has to do with our perception of reality, i.e. what we come to believe as real. This means that reality is changeable. It is flexible and malleable. It is suggestible to what we have to feed it. Reality does not exist on its own; we create it, nurture it, augment it, diminish it, shape it the way we want and we believe it. And then we sell it to others as a fact because we want them to perceive us in certain ways.

This naturally leads us to think that reality is as tangible as any idea we invite into our lives. Tony Robbins says, and I quote, “Our beliefs about what we are and what we can be, precisely determine what will be”. The future is responsive to our perceptions of it. If we perceive it to be successful, it will be successful. What we perceive as real will become real to us.

In hard times, some would wonder in despair “Why me?!” What if it was replaced with “Why not me? What is the message behind it? What is this meant to teach me?”. It’s a matter of changing the perception. Soon enough, what is perceived real to us starts to spread, people start to accept it and it becomes commonly perceived among others as reality as well. This way, we become able to create and recreate our fate.

The major skill required is that we train our minds to create positive perceptions until we turn weakness into strength. Does this mean that life is just an illusion created by our own perceptions? It might be, if you perceive it to be, or it might be something else depending on what you want to think and believe. After all, we live within the boundaries of our beliefs within our own map of reality.

Author: Lama Lawand