Is Perception Reality?
I’m sure you’ve heard the popular quote, “Perception is reality” attributed to Lee Atwater. While I understand, and can appreciate, the intent behind it; I find it difficult to fully accept.
Reality is often thought of as a strict, rigid truth. Something that doesn’t vary, never changes. It either is or it isn’t. This absolute view of reality leads us to judgement of right or wrong, agree or disagree. Afterall, if reality is … well, real. Then any view contrary to it becomes inaccurate.
Perception is generally considered one’s opinion, not a truth. It’s something that depends on the person and could even change from day to day, situation to situation. There is nothing absolute about a perception, everyone’s is slightly different. It’s practically impossible to completely agree on.
Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t matter.
Perception or reality, doesn’t matter.
Why Should We Care?
We spend far too much time trying to figure out who is right. We would be much better served to spend that time, and effort, pursuing understanding.
For example, our perception of another person’s intent in a conversation is meaningless. We are usually ignorant to that person’s experiences, priorities, and feelings. Attempting to predict someone’s perception without knowing those factors is futile.
Our focus should be understanding. Seeking to understand allows us to fend off the desire to judge. There is no good or bad. This, of course, is a challenge.
When we hear, feel, or experience something our brain immediately creates a story to help us make sense of that situation. It often takes the form of blaming someone else or defending our actions. Of course, we think our story is true. Unfortunately, it rarely is. This is precisely why we need to dismiss all of our stories and begin searching for understanding.
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Our perception is a result of our stories. And, our reality is dependent on our experiences. Neither is absolute. But, both are important. It should be our goal to understand our perceptions and define our reality. We should be doing the same for others.
Our perceptions are a result of our stories. Our reality is the processed version of that reality. In order for either of those to be trusted, we must take the time to recognize that our initial experience, thought, and feeling is a fraud.
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