A Matter of Perception!

I was introduced to the statement “Perception is reality” many years ago at a business seminar and, at that time, I had to question the logic. My thoughts at that time were that if Perception = Reality , and Reality = Truth, then Perception = Truth which seemed to be total nonsense.

The more I thought about it, the more I understood the basis for stating that “Perception is reality”, and the more examples I saw in everyday life, the more it made sense.

For example, there is one individual who has thoughts of being the next US President who I perceive to be incompetent for such a powerful position. There is no doubt somebody in the US who would dispute that based on their own perceptions of ability. We would both believe that our perception is correct although clearly one of us is wrong (and the truth may well be established in the not too distant future).

This becomes more interesting when we acknowledge that our perception of the world is based on our upbringing, which is heavily influenced by our parents,  and modified during our lives as a result of personal experiences.

My parents considered any form of religion to be a “load of rubbish” and yet, due to a number of experiences, I do believe that there is a “higher power”.

My childhood years were in a very trusting, honest and caring environment. It is therefore no surprise that I see the world in much the same way. Of course I realize that not everybody I meet will be trustworthy, honest and caring, but I will initially treat them as if they were. I may learn to treat some isolated individuals differently next time, but those individuals will not affect my overall perception of the world. My perception certainly is my reality.

This is a valuable concept to me because it allows me to see a different view/opinion as simply a different perspective. It does not mean that either one of us is right or wrong, but simply that we have different perspectives!

If anybody comments against this Post in a negative manner, then I will just acknowledge that their life has given them different perspectives. Our perspectives may not ultimately represent the truth, but they are the truth as we believe it to be at any given time.

Imagine a person who has just arrived from a country where drought conditions are standard  throughout the year. Imagine the horror on their face as they see me wash my hands under a running faucet. Imagine their reaction when they learn that I keep the shower running all the time that I am in there. Their perception of water would be that it is a valuable and life giving resource to be used sparingly. They would not initially comprehend why we could be so wasteful with it!

Acknowledging the concept that “Perception is reality” provides us with a reason to be more understanding and compassionate when confronted with conflicting views.

We are all where we are today, because of various incidents in our lives. It should therefore become our goal to not prejudge, or otherwise criticize another person’s behavior or life-style, because we simply do not know what has shaped their perspectives.

“Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” (Author unknown, but attributed to North American First Nations People). Food for thought.

16 thoughts on “A Matter of Perception!

  1. I love this post! Perception is everything, and it is so hard to remember that no one else sees the world exactly the same way that we do. And that all of us believe and act in ways that make total sense to us, even if it makes no sense to others. It is so easy to judge someone else in a negative way if we don’t take a minute to try to look at things from their point of view, and to really ask them why they feel the way they do and then listen to their answer, rather than quickly jump in to tell them exactly why they are wrong. Thanks for reminding us all…

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  2. Before becoming an independent consultant I ran Customer Service teams for small and large medical device companies. One of many basic tenets of delivering a good customer experience is to acknowledge the customer’s perspective, position, and perspective. Good service providers use that as their starting point even if they disagree and even if the Customer is dead wrong. There can be many versions of reality and many times we must simply agree to disagree and move on from that point.

    Great post as usual Colin.

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  3. Great post! You could put out another book with posts like these! I will admit I had to SMILE at your comment about the US politician running for President. There are many in US that share your perception but needs to be more! And don’t say not too distant future please. Don’t need reminded , my perception is that its still a long long long way off,even if that’s not reality.

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  4. That is a great explanation why truth is so subjective and why there are so many truths due to our “programming” and history. How we perceive something is a result of what we believe about and it creates our reality. Awesome post, Colin!

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  5. Absolutely true. I spent a lot of time training managers about this in the workplace. Some people get a bad rap because of perceptions. You always have to be conscious of the perception you are giving. (That extends to presidential candidates too!) I came from an upbeat home too. There were three of us children. Two are upbeat and the “glass is mostly full” people but the other one is always looking for the bad in people or the negative reason that denied him a raise, promotion, etc. I haven’t seen him in decades because he can be toxic if you spend too much time with him yet we came from the same household. People are a mystery. Great post.

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  6. Thought provoking post Colin.
    One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the interaction and variety of concepts, perspectives and opinions. Several things I’ve read from other
    bloggers have made me see things differently, to appreciate another angle.
    We are all individuals, and our upbringing has a contributory factor in how we see and understand things. What is right for one can be seen as wrong in someone else’s eyes. The question What is normal? should have two extra words added: What is normal FOR YOU.
    (My opinion of course).

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    • What is normal indeed? I defy anybody to establish “normal behavior” in a global context. Sadly, so many people establish their personal “normal”, and then apply it globally. This just simply shows itself as discriminatory and prejudicial because other cultures are not meeting “their normal”.

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