Learning why we think perception is reality is the first step in taking back control of our thinking. Many see perception as the witness to reality. But what we perceive is not an objective representation. What we perceive is an individually crafted fiction influenced by several factors. Let’s look at what influences our thinking and discover a new world of possibilities.
One of the most fascinating aspects of human cognition is perception. What we call perception results from a complicated process. It combines input from senses, cultural programming, emotions, past experiences, and social influences. These elements play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the world.
An Individually Crafted Fiction
Perception isn’t a mirror of objective reality. Our perception of reality is like the mirror in a fun house. It presents a distorted picture of reality containing our preconceptions, assumptions, and values. When we are aware of these factors empowers us to navigate the complexities of this mirror. When we learn why we think perception is reality, it helps us to step back and see what’s happening. We gain perspective, wisdom, and open-mindedness. We can unravel the kaleidoscope of perception and unravel the mysteries of this mirror.
We must accept perception as a subjective process. Our senses are filters, interpreting external stimuli. They transform this data to fit our beliefs and values. So what we experience is not an accurate representation of reality. Our perceptual limitations alter our understanding of the truth. Thus, leading us to the belief that our perceptions are indeed reality.
The five senses play a small part in perception. They do not give a complete picture of reality, only input into the process. We experience everything “in the mind.” Scientists, mystics, shamans, and other gifted spiritual teachers are unanimous in their opinion. Our reality contains much more than we are taught to perceive. These possibilities await our discovery if we remove the obstacles.
Why We Think Perception Is Reality
It is much easier for people to influence our thoughts if we are conditioned to believe our perceptions are accurate. When we are taught to accept things at face value, we fail to weigh the facts. This provides them with access to influence our thinking and values. Many social entities take advantage of this opportunity. The big three social entities influencing our thinking are advertising, religion, and politics.
These entities teach us to accept our perception as reality because they actively influence our perception. It is obvious why they do this. They have things to sell. They sell everything from toothpaste to ideologies. How do they it, and why do they get away with it?
You’ve heard people say, “I think perception is reality.” However, this is incorrect. What they really mean is that their interpretation of reality is what they think is correct. It’s just an opinion based on the filters of their mind. We end up with an individually crafted fiction programmed by those we allow to control the programming.
“Our beliefs are what create our experiences. As we change our beliefs, we alter our perception, our version of reality.” — Iyanla Vanzant
What we perceive is the result of a complex filtering process. Our worldview or paradigm filters everything to “make it fit” our expectations. It makes operation in daily life easier because it’s the autopilot setting. We don’t have to think and decipher things when we live on autopilot. And, if something doesn’t fit the worldview, we alter it to fix or delete it.
People and organizations spend considerable effort to program the cultural narrative. They do it to control what we think and value. Controlling your thoughts and values is the goal of propaganda and marketing. Those in control of the programming of social media and religion craft specific messages; it gives them optimal control. If they control the cultural folklore, then they can sell us things.
Again, everything we think or perceive happens in our minds. What we call reality is “an individually” crafted fiction. To unravel this fiction, we must look at the factors we use to create this fictional representation. What, then, are the factors that we use to craft this illusion?
Do You Think Perception is a Reflection of You?
You are what you think. What you value the most will dominate the values of your thinking. If someone can control what you think, they can motivate you to act based on the values and ideas they project. Here are the factors or elements which influence perception:
1) Controlling The Cultural Narrative
Many psychologists (1) believe the cultural narrative is the most influential tool in perception. If you control the narrative, you control what people believe. Our cultural and social backgrounds heavily influence our perceptions. Our upbringing, societal norms, and cultural beliefs shape the lens through which we view the world. For example, different cultures may assign distinct meanings to gestures, colors, or even eye contact. Every gesture or color can have a variety of different interpretations depending on cultural context.
The programming of the cultural narrative is so powerful it can override the hardwiring of personality and instinct. Do you think perception is a reflection of you? If so, you have the power to you change what you perceive. If you can’t accept this hypothesis, you are likely locked into a rigid set of beliefs.
You see no other options when you are locked into a set of beliefs. Depending upon the level of harmful programming, people can be driven to acts of violence. It creates cognitive distortions that motivate people to do unspeakable things in the name of their higher power. These unhealthy values justify everything from genocide to genital mutilation.
“Our conceptions of the world affect our perception of the world which, in turn, condition the way we subsequently conceive the world.” — Stephen Batchelor
We only believe and experience what we expect; all perception is a reflection of you. The mind alters or ignores anything outside the realm of expectations. It’s a filter that limits the bandwidth of our senses. Depending on the individual’s cultural narrative, this filter colors our experience as good or bad.
Your ability to perceive is in direct proportion to the openness of awareness. The cultural narrative can affect the bandwidth of your perception. With enough exposure, it alters the psychic structures of the brain. Several elements within our cultural folklore affect our thinking, self-talk, and value judgments.
— The type and level of formal education
— Exposure to unhealthy indoctrination systems like organized religion
— The health of our family and social structure
— Any extraordinary life circumstances that imprint thoughts or value judgments
Self-hypnosis and group hypnosis are the primary tools used by religion to program the cultural narrative. It’s why we think perception is reality. We get a dose of pretending every week. The mystery religions of the Mediterranean developed these effective brainwashing tools eons ago. All advertising tools trace their roots to these early brainwashing tools.
The mind creates what we call perception when it is actually an individually crafted fiction. Yet, imagination has created all of the modern conveniences of the world. So, the pictures we have in our minds can affect tangible change.
2. Cognitive Biases and Cognitive Distortions
What we perceive is subject to various cognitive biases that can distort reality. Confirmation bias prompts us to seek information that validates our existing beliefs. Thus, reinforcing preconceived notions. They think perception is reality, and their reality cannot be questioned. Similarly, the halo effect is another cognitive distortion that reinforces bias. It influences our judgment by focusing on a single characteristic.
If you do not engage in inner work, which reveals these harmful thought patterns and values, you won’t know they exist. Cognitive distortions become an accepted part of your life. A cultural narrative that projects and supports cognitive distortions is inherently unhealthy.
If an individual believes they hear voices and has an imaginary friend, they are considered delusional. But, when this person hears voices in the context of religion, they are called a prophet of God. This latter shows how “an individually crafted fiction” can be used to control great masses of people.
3. Language and Sound
Language and sound are factors that affect our perception. Scientists prove a single word can alter our perception of the situation, and we don’t need to say words out loud for them to have power.
Our internal dialogue can reinforce either positive or negative thoughts. We know Matras and Sutras’ use can alter consciousness and open doors to higher states of awareness. These tools have a long history of use as mechanisms to enhance healing.
4. Physical and Emotional State
Our emotional state plays a critical role in how we perceive reality. When we are happy, the world appears more positive, while during times of stress or sadness, our perception tends to be clouded by negativity. Emotional factors can distort our interpretation of events. Our emotional state of mind leads us to view reality differently. In a practical sense, reality depends on your health. Without some level of health, you don’t experience reality at all.
Like it or not, perception is a reflection of you. Our physical and mental health is a significant factor affecting perception. If we are tired or injured, this will alter or restrict perception. Medicines or psychotropic substances will also affect perception.
When discussing the factors that affect our perception, it’s easy to overlook the obvious. Our mental and physical health fluctuate during the day, as does the bandwidth of perception. Slight changes in mental and physical health can impact the ability to compile data from the cultural filter.
Some people live in a perpetual state of stress psychologists call cognitive dissonance. It’s also called the “religious headache” because it will likely affect those with rigid religious beliefs. It causes physical pain, and this dramatically affects their ability to reason. It’s what makes people suicide bombers.
5. Past Experiences
Our past experiences significantly influence our perception. They act as a lens through which we interpret future events. For example, if we had a negative encounter with a dog in childhood, we may develop a fear of dogs. We perceive all dogs as dangerous, even if they pose no real threat. These past experiences anchor our perception, creating individualized realities.
Holding onto harmful experiences gives them power in your life. Accepting your perception is a reflection of you gives you the motivation to address these issues. It takes courage to face these events which have shaped our lives, but they can become heavy burdens that block the enjoyment of life.
Two individuals can witness the same event and perceive it differently based on their personal histories. Understanding that our unique experiences shape our perceptions of the world gives us perspective. It allows us to embrace empathy, as it prompts us to consider the experiences of others.
6. Social Influence
The opinions and beliefs of those around us can shape our thinking and values. We think perception is reality, a social reality, because that is what they want us to think. Their programming has clearly defined goals and objectives.
We often rely on others to form our understanding of the world. This can be dangerous. Today social media play a vital role in shaping our perceptions. By presenting curated content that prompts an emotional response, they can guide us to make the decisions they want. You act just like a trout chasing a shiny object.
Understanding Who and What Influences Perception
Understanding the intricate factors that affect perception enables us to grasp its immense power. Perception influences our decisions, relationships, and well-being. If we understand why we think perception is reality, we can peel back the layers that disguise the factors that influence our perceptions.
(1) Scientists Find That a Single Word Can Alter Perceptions. Language has the power to make the invisible appear real. Psychology Today, August 2013, by Christopher Bergland.