Each human being’s reality is formed by their perception which, in turn, is dictated by their culture, race, religion and gender. Whatever we perceive is exactly what we ‘see’ which is likely to be different from the next person. Imagine three people standing beside each other, each staring at the same scene: one a Christian, one an Atheist and one islamic, to see how perception would decide how each interprets what they are seeing: whether acceptable or offensive. In effect, each person will see what they wish to see (perception). Hence why perception is such a powerful force in our lives.
As a rule, our perception operates on three levels:
a) How we perceive ourselves.
b) How we perceive our world, and
c) How we are perceived by others.
All three levels are dictated by our confidence and self-esteem, especially in the perception of ourselves, which actually affects everything else in our day. Good self-perception is influenced by the following:
* The way we feel inside our own skin;
* The extent to which we like what we see in the mirror;
* The value we place upon ourselves as special human beings;
* Where we are coming from: our culture and life quality;
* The achievements we have had;
* What potential we acknowledge;
* The power and authority we have over others.
How We Perceive Ourselves and Our World
If we feel low and perceive ourselves to be worthless, we also view our world in a worthless way. Everything we do afterward becomes a hassle. We appear more victims than victors; we tend to dread all new experiences and negative things always seem to happen to us. Our world does not seem half as pleasant or enjoyable as that of others. We tend to get stuck in the past, which always looks better, and we are truly hard work for other people who have to bear the brunt of this negativity and try to keep us happy. Often they give up with frustration and leave us to it by avoiding us at every opportunity.
In this kind of personal reality our reason drives our perception and awareness – reason being the framework upon which to peg the daily reality of living. It consists of our personal notions of what is right and wrong. That is why anything which “flies in the face of reason” is generally defined as insane or promptly ignored. As someone puts it cogently: “Reason is the bullying guard at the gates of perception.” It keeps our perspective in check and in balance, but it is a perspective which is flawed by our individual ethics.
As our world view grows, the nature of what we are perceiving becomes, or seems to become, clearer because our reason will step in and not only clarify the viewpoint, but validate it too. What we see, and how we interpret it, may be logical to us but, being influenced by personal bias, but it will not necessarily be correct.
How Others See Us
Perception is so powerful, it immediately affects the way others see us. For example, if you told someone that you are a fighter, depending on how you look, and coupled with their own prejudice, they would perceive you to be either the brawling street type or a professional boxer. Looking very successful would help to maintain the latter perception. Worst of all, because the way others perceive us affects the quality of the life we lead, and the opportunities to enhance ourselves, poor self-perception leads to an equally negative perception by others, which keeps us in the same rut throughout our lives.
Other people cannot view us in a better light than we view ourselves. That might happen on initial impact without too much information to go on. However, once we start to behave in a certain way, it gives the green light to others to form judgments about us and the initial high expectation will rapidly fall to coincide with our own low esteem, or vice versa. Hence the old maxim of having to “prove” ourselves in any new situation. All we are really doing in such instances is matching the perception of others to the reality we perceive for ourselves in our bid to impress. This is most obvious in the perception of partners toward each other once they are in a relationship or the perception of workers trying to please co-workers or their boss.