Perception is Reality

Submitted by on Friday, June 9, 20063 Comments

Oh this is going to be a philosophical one, isn’t it? I can tell from the title this is going to be a philosophical one. Thinking aloud. Who shall my audience be for this article? Shall it be the realist or pragmatist who would believe in only one reality? Or shall it be my HSP friends who would perhaps have no problem accepting this idea, due to their understanding of their reality living on the Sensitive side, understanding the mish-mosh of the world in theirs?

Decisions. Decisions. Perhaps I’ll just speak my current truths as I see them.

Okay. Let me first say there is a reality inside us all. It’s what we’ve known. We’ve had this filter in place since we began understanding human speech and our family of origin. Our life experiences have shaped and formed our perceptions and this is the point of reality we’ve operated from. We’ve operated from this point of reality. It’s kept us going. It’s moved us forward. …and that’s what forms our external life.

So for this article, let’s say that perceptions are our internal realities or truths while reality is our physical living or physical results.

Perception Aligned with Reality

Whose reality? Yours, silly. Yes, I know. We get so confused these days when we discuss reality as all this “New Age” jargon is acting as if personal realities are a new pseudo-science. I disagree. Your reality is your reality. This is inarguable as you cannot experience my reality – ever. Not even if we were Siamese twins joined at the hip for 60 years. Yes, our realities could be the most closely intersected but remember. Even on a cellular level [DNA] we are all unique beings.

Even if you disagree with the above and believe in only one reality…or let’s say the “Great Reality” as God. I have no trouble with that concept. It does not further however. Why not? It doesn’t further because I cannot and never will be able to embrace this reality if I approach it from that angle. I must approach it from where I begin and where I begin is my own personal world view…Yes, my own reality.

A caterpillar cannot approach flying until the caterpillar has undergone chrysalis and has turned into a butterfly. For a caterpillar to contemplate or ruminate upon the butterfly that flies above him is silly. [“The butterfly can see more than I can. Let me embrace her reality!”] The caterpillar cannot even begin to approach this experience as her entire life has been on her belly crawling very low on the leaf. The butterfly, the “Great Reality” for this example, on the other hand, can boast a “Great Reality” because she knows where the caterpillar comes from, where she’s going, and to what reality will open up for her once she has gained wings. And so can you.

Perception Misaligned with Reality

Were I to, in this instant, adopt an “inner city gangsta”‘s perception for example, I would hardly know what to do for myself. I’d probably draw the blinds closed, erect a fence, post a No Trespassing sign on the window and buy a few guns. I see myself checking outside every few minutes, paranoid maybe. Heck I may even by some of those jeans that I could wear around my knees with my underwear showing. I might sit on the front porch drinking cherry Kool-Aid with a little gin mixed in, playing some Snoop-Dogg with my loud radio. The neighbor’s would look at me funny because I’m living in a quiet community, in a southern state, in the suburbs. It wouldn’t be my reality though would it? I haven’t been shot at. There are no drive by’s where I live. And no one is around here to trespass anyway. By Day #2 I’d probably be committed to a hospital in need of rest.

There was a funny movie out a while ago with Jamie Kennedy entitled Malibu’s Most Wanted. What made it so funny was that his perception wasn’t lined up with his reality. He wanted to be a rapper and thought he was a gangsta…living in the posh luxury of his parents home in Malibu. He rapped about the hard times of *his people* which consisted of things silly like how bad they had it cause they can never gets a good parking place at Beverly Hills. It was hilarious because his reality was so contrary to his perceptions.

If Perception is Reality We Can Change It

The point of this article is to not get you to buy something you’re not ready to buy, but to share with whomever is interested, the thought that if “Perception Really is Reality” then we can change our reality, and by that I mean, for the better. How to do that is simple but may not be so easy. Idea after idea may have to be thrown away and people seem comfortable with the familiar, no matter it no longer works.

On a larger scale, we’re talking about neurosis. Psychiatric hospitals may be filled with people who can no longer get their perceptions in line with their reality. And notice I said “… in line with their reality.” For the rest of us, not institutionalized, much of our realities intersect.

Reality, according to Merriam-Webster Online: 1) The quality or state of being real. According to‘s reality: 1) The quality possessed by something that is real 2) All of your experiences that determine how things appear to you 3) The state of being actual or real.

Reality Check

If we were all at a football game outside in 10 degree weather and I started pulling off my gloves, coat, scarf, sweatshirt…If I took off my button down shirt and sat there in nothing but my jeans and [my favorite kind] A-line Boys Hanes tanktop people would look at me funny. I can imagine some whispers to friends “She’s nuts!” But from a movie I watched recently {The Business of Strangers}, Stockard Channing, in character, relays her first hot flash. Let’s examine this with my taking my clothes off and not debase the good character with my analogy.

What’s the reality?

Am I nuts? Here it is 10 degrees and I’m taking my clothes off. Now I’m sitting there in an A-line Boy Tank and jeans enjoying the football game. In this scenario, there is no perception involved. One is either hot, cold or comfortable. There is only pure reality. There is no *the reality.* Yes, it’s 10 degrees. Yes, I am deathly suffocating. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps I just took a bet that I wouldn’t strip down to my tank top. Perhaps I just made $100 from an intoxicated loud mouth who thought that I wouldn’t take a stupid bet. Am I nuts for taking this bet? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I needed $100 to pay the rent on time. Is this a perception or is this my reality? Oh this is my reality because my landlord just told me if I didn’t have it, in full, within two days she would start eviction proceedings.

Am I really nuts? Here’s my reality. I have had a perception for the longest time that if Brett Favre could just get a glimpse of my sleekly toned biceps, he’d whisk me away to love me forever. The night before, in my dream, he told me to wear my tank and do the hokey-pokey at half-time. That would be our signal. This really didn’t happen, but if this were my perception it would create this reality. Reality is now that I am sitting in 10 degree weather freezing. All the witnesses to this are not experiencing my reality or my perception that created my reality are they?

Real Life Reality Checks

Neurotic behaviors or to a lesser degree, beliefs, ideas, functions or behaviors that keep us bound up from living our lives in freedom are when our perceptions seem incapable of aligning with our realities or our realities from aligning with our perceptions [our ideas, thoughts, beliefs].

Either painful scenario [ a painful perception or a painful reality ] means we have some work to do. It means we are not living in our authentic life. We are living a pseudo-life, almost as if we’re watching it in 3rd person. Some could even say we’ve put our life on automatic pilot. When our insides are not matching up with our outsides, for whatever reason, I believe we have work to do in order to secure our lives back.

Former reality #1: Let me take a painful reality of mine. I drank every day. I couldn’t not drink. Although time after time undesired results would occur, I still drank. My insides, my perception(s)/my internal reality, dictated that unless I had alcohol I was not okay. This was no fancy imagining. This was a truth. There are people in my life who could tell you today that unless I had alcohol, or the thought of it, I was not okay. This thing inside me would switch, like a light switch and just that easy. Some situation may come up, when I would try to quit drinking, and I’d switch, and back to drinking. This was a pattern. One day my perception changed. I didn’t do it intentionally but through a series of events, in this situation, is when my perception changed that there may be another way to be okay [with actual good results as opposed to the bad that alcohol was delivering, to boot]. As a result of this paradigm shift, my reality is that I have not had a drink since AND that life is good.

Former reality #2: When my internal does not line up with my external, I will go crazy. In 2005, trying to separate with my husband and then unable to do it, so then trying to emotionally detach from a different man and unable to do that…I was insane. I couldn’t converge my internal with my external no matter how hard I tried, prayed, cried, reasoned, or lied… In this situation I decided to try something different. [If the mountain doesn’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed can go to the mountain.] I left physically toward neutral territory… State’s away. My immediate need was for everyone’s paws off of me. It seemed everyone had their idea of what they wanted or what they thought I should do and even more sickening was that everyone’s way of going about doing it, was not my way. I pray to God I have grown from this. [Nazi’s in A.A. may tell you that you can’t run away from your problems but let me testify that that’s not my truth. No, you cannot run away from yourself successfully. But you absolutely have a right and a responsibility to your self to get to a safe place when you’re, in the very least, uncomfortable and to the extreme – as I was – in the process of everyone dictating to you – to the point you’re losing you’re mind – especially with a life-altering decision.] When I made my physical reality fall in line with my internal reality [that I am an independent minded woman] my life got better. I, then, enjoyed the peace and freedom I had in making my own decisions. I was able to get quiet enough to be able to listen to my intuitive voice.

Current reality reality: I am going through something right now, and I’m not sure but I think it’s my sugar relapse. I have been thinking quite suicidally. My reality is that suicide is not the end of the world. [My whole religious/belief system is lined up with that one.] I quit eating but mainly for sugar. I have learned I have bad reactions to sugar but I do it anyway. I feel comfortable enough to talk about it now because I haven’t felt “What’s the point?” today. I know I’m in a bad area when I question “Why are we alive?” I haven’t gotten to the root of this one yet…but I’m giving my sugar withdrawal a chance and then check in with myself.

I also think that since I pulled myself off from back pain pills, I “feel” the results of serotonin depletion. I was on a suicide website yesterday trying to get someone else’s reality since mine was god-awful. End result is I went to the store and bought food. Had no sugar. Then a headache. So my internal reality [perception] is ambivalent. That suicide isn’t the worse thing I could do and is not the end of the world but mixed with, “What if something happens and I miss it?” It’s not that I’m depressed. I’m showering and laughing and still taking care of my appearance and reaching out to people and showing affection and gaining some pleasure … But it’s this undercurrent of helplessness and “that’s all she wrote.” Like that’s it. I guess it could be quite possible I am having a mid-life crisis at 34. I think it’s more probable I am in quite possibly the most extreme form of denial I have ever been in.

Like maybe God and I are at a stand-off and I’m still arguing my viewpoint. We’ll see. Cause, like I told my sister a few weeks ago…sometimes the thought of non-suicide is supplanted with the thought of karmic freaking retribution.

I’m a recovering E.D. [Eating Disordered]. Kathleen Desmaisons, PhD in Addictive Nutrition, was the best thing to happen to me since my getting sober. [My friend still has one of my books so I’ll be ordering the original two I did have.] Not to get off topic, as I’ll delve into that later but to help my Sugar problem relapse I’ll be going back to the basic 7 step program that saved me before. Here are the books if you’re curious: Potatoes Not Prozac and The Sugar Addicts Total Recovery Program.

So my internal reality may be screwed up right now. That is my reality. What is also my reality is the memory of when I wasn’t on a sugar relapse. I know when I am eating and not eating sugar I feel better. These internal realities will produce my external reality in some shape. I will either [win] and get back to my “off sugar” life or I may pursue it to the bitter end [lose].

Former reality #3: My perception was that I was fat or that food was my enemy or that people were trying to make me fat or that I’d be happier thin. Any one worked. I knew my perceptions were inaccurate when I’d stand on the scale and not believe what I was seeing. [“But I felt like I had gained ten pounds!”] When I’d go to the store and start with size 8, knowing they had made mistakes in the sizing guide when I left with a size 0 or a size 1. But when all scales said the same thing…when all stores were consistent in their sizing mistakes…when I’d see an image of myself and become intrigued. “Is that really what I look like?” I’d asked. The answer was always yes. When my perceptions changed is when I began eating and not purging or denying. And this one changed, a lot like the drinking one… my mismanagement and misery led me into doing something differently. In my case, the aforementioned books in conjunction with a 12 step program directed toward people who misuse food. I may relapse [as we’ve seen above] but thank God I know what to try first.

Why Bother Trying to Change A Perception

Why indeed! Because, for me, sometimes my reality is quite painful or unfathomable. Have you ever felt like you were the only one in the world who did not have “the secret?” How everyone else seemed so relaxed or comfortable and then…there you are. Well, I’ve learned that when my perceptions are producing a satisfying reality there is my secret. When I have renounced a negative perception, this means… that when the smoke clears and I’m no longer in the void of having “nothingness” I have gained a new perception.

Example: Broken down into my A.A. 4th & 5th step. Acknowledging my shortcomings through an inventory. By contrast, acknowledging my assets through an inventory. Acknowledging my fears. After my 5th step I was a mess. My sponsor called it [and other A.A.’s I’d later hear], “the hole.” Nothing was in this hole that I could see. I’d just dumped all my garbage out and there I was. [Much like how I am today with my “Current Reality”.]

This would be when my sponsor would suggest I let God fill in those holes. That I had been operating from those unsatisfying ideas for so long, that when they went away [or for this article…when the perceptions were realized to no longer work] I was operating from a blank slate so to speak.

So How Does One Change a Perception

We only want to change the things that no longer feel good. So that’s what I start with.

Sidenote: Other people are more learned on the matter, such as Deepak Chopra in The Book of Secrets, which gave me the idea for this article. It is the Book of Secrets as far as I am concerned and again…mimics 12 Step metamorphosis as well as the ever-awesome, my first book out from recovery The Four Agreements. It’s awesome when you begin to see the mirrors of freedom no matter where you go or what you’re doing. [Or biblically, “As a man thinketh, so he is.”]

But I’m out of time right now. We’ll tackle that one later. Absorb this one for a while if you want to!



  • Polli said:

    I found your beautiful blog here from a link on your bookcrossing profile. It seems you joined recently and listed me as your referrer. :-) This is great timing because I really needed to read this today.

  • samsara (author) said:

    Hey! Yes I did. Your name showed up in my box when I signed up…Think I “stumbledupon” you. ;)
    I am so glad this was able to bring some sort of comfort and thanks for taking the time to respond. :)

  • Jackal said:

    Wonderful, honest and insightful

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