Perception versus reality

Perception according to the Cambridge Dictionary is;

1.A belief or opinion, often held by many and based on how things seem

2.The quality of for being aware of things through the physical senses; especially sight

3.Someone’s ability to notice and understand things that are not obvious to other people

The majority of us live according to our perception, we react and make decisions through the way in which we see things. We look at how a situation or action affects us personally.  Our perception at times will most certainly be wrong and we will still act on this.  Be honest and think back to the number of times you have made wrong judgements based on what you chose to see and your prejudices.

See the example below;

David joined your organisation last week as a project officer.  Though generally pleasant to his peers, David is rather aloof and separates himself from them. A few officers have aired they feel David isolates himself and contributes very little in team meetings. As David’s supervisor you are planning to raise this issue with him, however your view is he suffers with anxiety and struggles to work closely with people.  Same situation – two very different perspectives.

It is all to easy to make an assumption on why someone acts the way they do. Once we have created an impression of who they are in our eyes, we go on to treat them accordingly. Often we do not have the full picture and no real desire to actually understand the “why”. We simply run with our idea as it makes perfect sense to us.

Newspapers and magazines exist to inform us while heavily influencing the way we look at politics, the economy, the government, the rich, the poor, fashion, beauty, ourselves and so on.  Most people base their views on the information they have been fed (which nine times out of ten times is misleading) rather than first hand. I ceased buying fashion magazines years ago as I felt it began to change the way
in which I viewed myself and others.

There is an old saying “our eyes cannot lie” but we can choose to see that which justifies and supports our beliefs. We can jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts because it is easier to do so than exploring that little bit more and thinking outside of the box.

How much do outside influences skew your views?

Do you work to keep an open mind – what practical steps do you take?

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20 thoughts on “Perception versus reality”

  1. I try to gather facts before I draw conclusions, but sometimes I still make horrible assumptions. I suppose that is human nature. The good thing is that, as you get older, you don’t do it as much as you once did.

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  2. I usually try to put myself in different perceptive and take the time to learn about things. Sometimes being a constant learner can help to understand the reality.

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  3. Brilliant post Phoenicia and your images are perfect! The only point I would challenge is the one that the majority of us live according to our perceptions. I think that’s being kind, because if we are live we are influenced by perceptions, it’s simply human nature. A glaring example of that is our recent election in America where so many people were influence by fake news and outright lies. Few people will take the time to fact check and that isn’t just during an election, that’s every day.

    Personally, I think my work as a researcher has greatly influenced how I consume news. I tend to be a skeptic, rarely taking reports at face value. If it’s something that’s important to me I’ll take the time to dig deeper into a story. Same thing for my articles, I have found that many research reports are based on unproven claims so I never pass long advice or information unless it’s something I’ve experienced personally or been able to substantiate.

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    1. Thank you for your honest comment Marquita. Researching will definitely teach you to dig deeper. There is always more but whether people want to hear it or not is another matter……

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  4. Hi Phoenicia. Travel helps keep my perception real and objective. I make a point of opening my heart and eyes to the differences I experience when I travel with hope that they will make me a better person.

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  5. I’m fairly perceptive, which is a good thing. It’s a bad thing when I use that perception to jump to a judgment before I have all the facts. And, oh yes, I do that. So I work to interpret all the possibilities of a situation rather than key in on what the first reaction might be.

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  6. I agree with so must in this post. I also accept the fact that perception is reality. It is true we cannot jump to conclusions, but all reality, or facts, are untimely based on the persons perception. Grass is green, because we have the ability to see green, if there was a slight difference in how our eyes work, grass could be orange.
    Although we can be influenced, the fact that is, reality is also just a matter of perception itself.

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    1. I agree William. We lean towards seeing life as it appears to us. I do think it is possible to look at life from another person’s perspective but we need empathy for this.

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  7. Good point! When I was in school, we had this optional weekend excursion where we did all these exercises using a language called percept language. And in these exercises, you would bring your experiences back to yourself. So let’s say you saw a flower that you thought was beautiful. In the exercises, you would say, “I have this flower in the beautiful part of myself.” Because we filter everything through our own lense of reality. Those exercises were really eye opening and made me realize how much we create our own reality based on how we perceive things.

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    1. Erica – percept language sounds interesting. I guess it is a waste of time trying to convince others to see life from our perspective when they can only view it by their experience.

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