Our perception is our reality

illustration by  Tim O’Brien

illustration by Tim O’Brien

We see the world through our view of the world–our ‘perception’ of the world. Our opinions, beliefs, experiences and even our mood at that moment will shape how we interpret what we see, hear and feel. 

We know this is true, and sometimes we choose to ignore it because it doesn’t support our case. The trick is to be present and aware, to observe and then not attach anything to the event. “It is what it is”, just an event. The problem is that we then go crazy in our own minds trying to fit an explanation to the event, and our perception of that event will be influenced by all those things I mentioned above–beliefs, experiences (both conscious and subconscious) and like I said, our mood.

“Reality doesn’t bite, rather our perception of reality bites” –Anthony J D’Angelo

So, what can we do about it?

  • Don’t react. Just be still and park it for later (really hard to do when the energy and emotion are high!)

  • Unpack it by writing about it or talking about it

  • Be careful not to ‘stew on it’, or ‘loop’ on it, as described by my Clearing Practitioner Jayne Johnson

Looping is where we replay an event over and over in our minds, asking ourselves “why did they say that (or do that)? what did they mean? There isn’t often an answer, so in the absence of one, we create our own. We’ve all been there!

There is a story about an ancient Sufi, who was accused of doing something by the people in his village. He knew it not to be so, but rather than engage, he just replied with “is that so?” – not agreeing or disagreeing, just acknowledging. It takes a lot of self-awareness to not engage, to just be present and acknowledge, then walk away. This, for me, is a defining component of personal development–to able to see things differently–perceiving them differently and for what they are, just things.

Our approach to this phenomenon is also influenced by our natural talents—the ways we approach and treat situations, tasks, events and people. For example, do you have a need for more information to analyse before making a decision, or are you impatient and like to choose quickly so that you can activate and get on with the task/tick that box?

I’m an Activator*, so I make decisions quickly and get on with execution–the doing after the choice is made. This means that I might jump to conclusions quickly too, sometimes without due diligence (yawn). The risk here is that we, okay okay... I base my decisions on my perception of the information available.

However, I’m also an [over] thinker and enjoy intellectual thinking and conversations. so I find myself analysing and overthinking situations and scenarios that perhaps haven’t even happened yet—and are based on my quick perception interpretations. And for many people, this can often be evident in ‘buyers remorse’— when you make a purchasing decision, perhaps a little bit too irrationally, and then after the dopamine high of making a purchase wears off, you start to think about whether it was a good idea or not.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
–Eckhart Tolle.

Take care over this Holiday break and be amazing!


*Activator is a Talent Theme – one of 34 themes in the Gallup CliftonStrengths platform. The Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment identifies a person's unique sequence of 34 themes of talent and shows people how to succeed by developing them into strengths. 

People who know and use their CliftonStrengths are: 6 times more likely to be engaged at work, 7.8% more productive in their role, 3 times more likely to have an excellent quality of life and 6 times more likely to do what they do best every day.

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