We often hear phrases like “perception is reality” that contradict other phrases like “things aren’t always what they seem.” What do they mean though? And which is more accurate?
There are different schools of thought on the matter from realists, to optimists, to absolutists. Each of those hold principles that will force you to interpret the phrases differently.
Allow me to make an argument without defining it by any particular title.
Perception is defined as the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. With that, perception is far more than just what you see. Instead, how you interpret your experience with, and perspective of, a person or situation will shape how you perceive it to be.
Perception is how we understand things to be. When you consider perception as your understanding, you should become more responsible with how well you understand before deciding to respond.
Reality is defined as the world or the state of things as they actually exist. The definition continues with, “as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” The latter suggests the commonplace of our desire to see things how we want them to be, instead of how they are.
Even one of the worlds brightest mind said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein
Which leads us to this…
If perception is reality…
I say it is yours…
There are two times when perception will affect you; when you are the perceiver and when you are the perceived. Both times, you have the responsibility of making sure the perception is correct.
Because we respond or react to the way we perceive things, you should be very careful in how you allow yourself to perceive your surroundings. If perception is greater than sight, you should be wise in applying all that you know to how you perceive life.
In times where you are being perceived (first impressions, reputation, general interaction), you have the same responsibility. It is your job to make sure folks understand you in the way you intend them to. You have to manage your credibility. Trying to rest on how you want people to see you instead of understanding how they actually see you will hurt you more often than not. It’s similar to the difference between demanding and commanding respect.
A story of two friends
Avery and Sam were walking through the field until they stopped at an old wooden fence. Avery said, “this is the land I was telling you about. Isn’t it awesome?” Sam looked across the acreage at dry and sometimes clumpy dirt that looked as if it had been barren for decades. “I can barely contain my excitement”, Avery explained without seeing the expression on Sam’s face. “I put in the hard work and I can finally see the results.” Without pause Sam turned and asked, “Why would you be excited about this place? There is nothing here?”
Perception has shaped these friends realities in completely different ways toward the same thing. We don’t know who had it right yet. What we do know is they have a responsibility to share ideas and understanding. Perhaps Avery tilled the land and planted seeds below the ground that were finally taking shape. Avery may also know that there is a precious resource right below the surface. Sam may know a history of the place that Avery never learned.
Both friends have a responsibility to inform the other’s perception.
The two friends also owe it to themselves to learn more and shape their own perception.
And, both have clearly responded to how they perceive the situation with none of us knowing the complete truth yet.
If perception is reality, you have the responsibility of shaping your perception of outside things and the perception others have of you.
Let’s be better; together.