Your perception is your reality

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

Take a minute to scan your surroundings. Look around you. Pick out an object or person, maybe something or someone you hadn’t noticed before, and focus your attention on it. If you really focus, it’ll get brighter and more ‘real’ than it was when it was just an unnoticed piece of the background. Now, try to view your surroundings from the point of view of the object. Some people can do this easily, and for others it takes some concentration. Depending on how adept you are at focusing your concentration, you may notice a slight shift in your perception – a weird jump in reality, where you are suddenly viewing the world from a different perspective.

Did it work? Whether you noticed anything or not, your perception did change, albeit for an instant. It’s important to be conscious of your perception, because if you’re not, someone else will create it for you.

Tricking the eye – and your mind

Things aren’t always what they seem. In pictures painted using the ‘trompe l’oeil’ technique, which means “trick the eye”, the artist uses his skills to create a perception, an optical illusion. Our mind attempts to fill in the details of something it either thinks it already knows, or doesn’t quite understand. This is fine, when that’s the intention – momentarily letting our world be shaped for fun. But we have the same tendency to make up the details, to fill in the gaps, more generally in life, and if you are unconscious of this, simply allowing others to create your perceptions can make for a very unfulfilling life. Magicians – and marketers – rely on this fact to make you see things the way they want you to see them.

Change your story, change your perception, change your life

We all get caught up in at least some of our stories and will fight others who try to make us see life a different way. When your stories take on a life of their own, and that life isn’t the one you want, things start to go off track.

Here are some of the more disempowering stories that I am aware of, but still need to catch myself ‘running’ on off-days:

  • “The current market news means that I’m going to really struggle for money in the next few years”
  • “You shouldn’t speak up and stick your neck out – people won’t like you and you’ll end up with no friends” (tricky one for leadership, this!)
  • “There’s always more to do than I have time to do – and if I don’t do it, I’m a failure”

Think about the story you’re living right now. Who wrote it? Did you consciously decide to create the reality you’re living now, or has it mainly been shaped by your parents, friends, spouse, school, or the media? If you don’t like the story you’re living, then change it! Focus your perception on creating a new reality, one where you are in charge of the story. Take back the job as screenwriter and director, and stop just being an actor.

Everything begins with a decision – decide now to be in charge of your own perception of reality. Because if you don’t, there are plenty of people whose sole purpose in life is to craft that perception for you. Do you trust them to have your best interests in mind…?

Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.” – Douglas Adams