A profound truth is that we do not always see things as they are; we see things as we are. As we try to understand the world & others, we form perceptions or personal realities, which are shaped by our unique experiences, beliefs & emotions.
Perception is a personal filter. It influences how we interpret and understand events and interactions in our lives. Kind of like sunglasses, individual experiences & ideas shape how way we see the world: Upbringing, education and personal values all add to the lens through which we view reality. Add beliefs and assumptions and we further shape our perceptions of reality.
We tend to interpret information in a way that aligns with our preexisting notions. This phenomenon, known as confirmation bias, affects judgment and decision-making, often leading to distorted perceptions.
We see this a lot during political conversations as opposing viewpoints are presented and participants selectively focus only on information that confirms their existing beliefs, disregarding alternative perspectives. Consequently, conversations become polarized and narrow instead of open-minded ones that foster growth & understanding.
Emotions add significantly to the shaping of our perceptions. When we are happy, the world seems brighter, and we notice positive aspects of our surroundings. Conversely, if sad or angry, our perceptions may be clouded by negativity, causing us to miss beauty and kindness that is present.
Acknowledging that we each see things “as we are” is a big step towards finding compassion for ourselves and others. It encourages us to try to understand others, and their perspectives, which are equally shaped by their unique life experiences. This is a big step to cultivating empathy, which can bridge differences and find common human connection.
I spend a fair amount of time in self-reflection examining assumptions, particularly when coupled with emotional responses. This compels me to question the accuracy of my perceptions and challenges ingrained beliefs. Through greater self-awareness I am better able to see beyond my limitations, which helps me cultivate a more nuanced understanding of the world.
I’m @DianGriesel aka @SilverDisobedience
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