Perceptions and Reality

“No matter how people try to dispute it, perception is reality. It’s what you choose to believe that makes you the person you are.” ― Karen Marie Moning

We all live in our own worlds. Our own bubbles of reality as it were. Everything we see, hear, feel, touch or smell is our perception of a reality that others might not recognise. Often, I am amazed that what I might perceive, others do not. After all, we all live on the same planet, in relatively similar conditions, so why do we perceive things so differently?

Take something as simple as colours. I often go out for walks and admire the countryside as I walk through it. The grasses, the trees, the different plants and animals. Often, the clouds in the sky caught my eye. But wait a moment. Is the sky blue? And what hue of blue is it? If someone was with me, I could point at the sky and say it is blue, and you would concur. But are you really seeing that blue the way I am seeing it? Perhaps you have just learnt to call what you see “blue”, but in the actual experience, you are seeing nothing like the vivid, rich, blue I see.

So how do you see colour?

Our colour vision starts with the sensors in the back of the eye that turn light information into electrical signals in the brain – neuroscientists call them photoreceptors. We have a number of different kinds of these, and most people have three different photoreceptors for coloured light. These are sensitive to blues, greens and reds respectively, and the information is combined to allow us to perceive the full range of colours.

People experience colour in similar ways but not entirely the same. Some of that is culturally induced. A white wedding dress is the colour of innocence the West, but in China, wedding dresses are bright red. Some colour associations are biologically induced by the way the colour system is wired in the brain. Some of it is learned by the brain’s highly adaptive visual system according to the frequency of colour association with different types of objects and situations in the environment, for example seeing a red strawberry, though, for colorblind people, it might be blue!

Now move onto something more complex, like relationships.

I was thinking this the other day after a wonderful week turned into a complete disaster at the end. A disjointed conversation and a difference of perception were all it took. What followed was attempts to communicate that got progressively worse. I was too focused on the moment and not the situation. The situation spiralled out of control and terminated with an unanswered phone.

Over the following days, I took the time to reflect on what I had done and the approach I had taken. Just because we see something a particular way does not make it so. We can be so insistent sometimes that our way of seeing something is more right than someone else’s way. This clouds our judgements and can exacerbate the situation.

Keep an open mind at all times and remember that a point of view is always valuable to each individual. I always used to class myself as someone who was ‘realistic’ but after contemplating this further I realised that the term ‘realistic’ means something very different entirely.

There is no such thing as reality. There is only ‘your’ version of it which is essentially your perception. Remember that what you believe to be true is only as true as your worldly experience and it doesn’t go any further than that. No one else can see your reality. They can only see or hear what you perceive to share, and even that is open to interpretation.

Agree? Disagree? Please feel free to comment and share.

I leave you with the following quote.

“Reality is what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is what we believe.

What we believe is based upon our perceptions.

What we perceive depends upon what we look for.

What we look for depends upon what we think.

What we think depends upon what we perceive.

What we perceive determines what we believe.

What we believe determines what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is our reality.”

Gary Zukav, Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics

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