Two people can go through exactly the same thing yet have completely different outlooks. The mind is a powerful thing and our perspectives can influence the way we think, behave, and the experiences we have whether positive or negative.
This is a long-acknowledged fact. Because of this idea, numerous courses, self-help books, and therapies encourage people to “think positive” and be optimistic. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of “perception is reality” and how the two are inextricably interconnected.
Perception Is Reality Meaning
Perception, by definition, means the way you regard, comprehend, and interpret something. Your perceptions become your reality and truth.
For example, you and a friend are standing side by side waiting for the train, and a commotion is happening in the distance. You share the same experience at the same time.
Still, you can have completely different perceptions about what you’ve gone through and have opposite understandings and explanations of the incident. One might be afraid and interpret the event as an unpleasant emergency of some sort while the other could perceive it as a celebratory affair — perhaps a group of friends who are having a great time. One event — two different meanings.
Sometimes, our emotions can also affect our perception of things. Let’s say you received a work email after your supervisor pointed out a few issues in your output. How you perceive the email’s tone and meaning will dictate how you feel about the sender and how you respond to it.
Since you just received potentially upsetting news, you might think that the sender is reiterating your subpar work. However, if the opposite happened — your manager, for example, announced that you were getting a promotion — you might receive the email more positively.
The Subjective Nature of Perception
Perception is unique for every individual. Many factors can make your perception inaccurate and unpleasant. Perception is subjective and dynamic. It is only sometimes precise and authentic, given that it is significantly dependent on your thought process, reactions, and emotions instead of solely based on facts.
Here are some reasons why perception is subjective:
#1. We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. – Anaïs Nin
This quote of Talmudic origin means that you look at the world based on your experiences and often respond to it with expectations. You react to the ups and downs of reality based on how you perceive it and how people want you to react and respond to it. This is where the challenge lies: balancing your own perceptions with the perceptions of others.
In an ideal world, you embrace life on your terms, independently deciding on your perceptions, feelings, and behaviors. But the reality is our perceptions are most often filtered and altered based on other people’s experiences and demands.
#2. Perception is always positive or negative.
If you’ve had it hard in life, your perception of life becomes complicated and hostile. You feel and think that life, in general, is against you.
Even after things start to look better for you, there may still be an ugly perception that it won’t last and you’ll be back to being miserable soon enough. Having a pessimistic perception happens to most people, and unfortunately, it impacts their life choices and overall views on life.
On the other hand, people who have a positive perception manage to maintain it even if they are struggling or undergoing difficult times. Seldom do people’s perceptions shift from positive to negative and vice versa.
#3. You only see what you want to see and feel what you want to feel.
Everyone is guilty of this. Because of your perception, you tend to choose what you want to see and feel. Usually, it doesn’t account for the entire picture. There are plenty of reasons why you do this: as a self-defense mechanism, because you’re in denial, or you need to escape from your reality.
As a result, you choose a perception that justifies your behavior, decisions, and reactions. You make reality adapt to what’s easiest and most convenient for you.
Influence on Beliefs and Attitudes
Your perception is your interpretation and understanding of something while your attitude is how you act and react towards an incident. Your belief, on the other hand, is something you firmly live by — your guiding principles that become your moral compass.
Your perception will always influence your attitude towards a person and situation. In cases where your perception is negative, you will reflect a similar attitude. It’s the same with your beliefs. Despite having firm opinions, beliefs are dynamic and can be positively or negatively influenced.
The Gap Between Perception and Objective Reality
Objective or physical reality is a phenomenon that is independent of your mind and thoughts. It is recognized by consensus and exists outside your perception.
On the other hand, perception is heavily influenced by your mind. Your perception of reality may be inaccurate and may not necessarily happen. So, there can be a gap between objective reality and perception.
Outside factors do not influence objective reality. Instead, it is heavily based on impartial and unbiased truth with verifiable proof, while perception happens inside your mind and can be easily manipulated.
Psychological Factors in Perception
Since perception is entirely subjective, it pays to understand the contributing factors that can impact your awareness and discernment of the situations happening around you. These can either improve or become barriers to your perception.
#1. Your Emotions
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by emotions. If this happens, it leads to clouded discernment. For example, if you are feeling fearful and doubtful, you question anything and everything and tend to jump to negative conclusions.
#2. Your Motivation
Your unconscious preferences and goals will also impact your perception because you want it to be in your favor. As a result, you can look at a hardworking colleague — who is simply performing well — as an asset to your organization or as a threat.
#3. Your Expectations
When expectations aren’t met, it’s normal to shift one’s perception so it continues meeting expectations. It’s also possible to become discouraged by failure.
For instance, you expected to become project lead but unfortunately didn’t get the role. Your disappointment can cause your perception to change. You either look at it as a challenge to work harder or be demotivated by it and perform on a more mediocre level.
#4. Your Culture
Your culture is a significant part of your individuality and character. It is partly responsible for key personality traits like respect, humility, and boldness which all impact the way you perceive things. For example, your culture has taught you that helping everyone is a must, so you believe that lending a helping hand is a natural part of life and is expected.
Perception in Social and Organizational Contexts
Different social structures also influence our perceptions. Various organizations and groups have certain expectations from their members. For example, companies may promote a culture of overworking or “high performance.” If this is the case, employees are expected to adopt the belief that being driven and spending long hours at the office is what success looks like.
Perceptions may be influenced by many factors but this doesn’t mean that you’re a slave to them. Since you now know how perceptions are formed, you can take control and consciously shape them. Here are a few strategies to try:
#1. Understand yourself by being honest with yourself — who you are and aren’t and the person you want to become.
#2. Observe how your perception impacts those around you.
#3. Ask for honest feedback and be open to criticism.
#4. Create and establish your narrative in life.
#5. Always be kind to yourself.
#6. Interpret the verbal and non-verbal signs you are getting without bias.
#7. Don’t make unreasonable demands or expect others to meet them.
#8. Be thankful for what you have.
What Is a True Statement of Perception and Reality?
Your perception is not your reality although if you cling to biased perceptions long enough, you can make them your reality. This is because your perception strongly influences how you look at reality. Your perception can be manipulated and influenced by so many factors, unlike the truth.
What Is an Accurate Perception of Reality?
An accurate perception of reality is the ability to see things as they really are. It is not clouded by emotions or judgments. It can be checked by seeing if others are perceiving the same things.
Having an accurate perception of reality is worth striving for because it allows you to make sound judgments and even predict outcomes. If you can see matters plainly and without bias, you can react accordingly and make better decisions.
What Is Meant by Perception Is Everything?
How we regard reality dictates our reactions. It can mean the difference between an optimistic and pessimistic attitude. The goal is to accurately understand what’s going on and still manage to live with hope and meaning.