Perception Is Reality
Just who do we think we are? Good question, huh? Watch this first, then read on!
Many of us define ourselves by the thoughts in our heads. We attach ourselves to certain tribes, be them cults of belief, like liberals or conservatives, or style, like scene or preppy or goth, etc…
We spend insane amounts of time aligning ourselves with certain stereotypes and then believe that is who we are. We define ourselves by the roles we play as well. “I’m a doctor, lawyer, janitor, entrepreneur, teacher, security guard, soldier, executive, manager, musician, etc…” These roles and associations become who we believe we are.
We’ll even go to great lengths to defend those beliefs and associations, even when faced with startling realizations. What happens when you spend all your time believing that you are a “teacher”, then get fired and can’t find work in teaching anymore? Will you fervently defend your role as a teacher, even if you might never teach professionally again?
Will you assume a new role than call yourself that? What happens when you find out that both liberal and conservative are two sides of the same coin? Mostly devised as a smokescreen to keep you fighting one another and all upset so that you can’t see the real power plays happening, or the money being stolen?
Believe me, you’re being laughed at while your spending power and bank accounts are being drained directly or by inflation. Are you still staunchly conservative or bleeding-heart liberal? Perception is reality.
Many of us experience cognitive dissonance from time to time. It’s pretty much defined here from Wikipedia:
Social psychologists refer to cognitive dissonance as the presence of incongruent relations among cognitions that frequently results in excessive mental stress and discomfort. Ultimately, individuals who hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas and/or values frequently experience cognitive dissonance. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction. For example, an individual is likely to experience dissonance if he or she is addicted to smoking cigarettes and continues to smoke despite believing it is unhealthy. Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:
- “The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance”
- “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance” 
Attitude ? Belief Inconsistent with Attitude ? Dissonance
This is a crazy thing. We will believe so much that we are something, and then something else holds up a mirror to us and we see something contradictory. This happens all the time. Many people will get angry and do everything in their power to lessen the dissonance they feel.
They will make up all kinds of stories to defend their cherished beliefs, even though they know that they are wrong. This leads to all kinds of stupid and useless suffering. Perception is reality.
Our Perception Is Our Reality
Seeing this in the frame of cognitive dissonance, we’ll let our perception be our reality. We see the world through our own filters. Our judgments, biases, tastes, likes, attachments, and aversions all get in the way.
These filters sit between our senses and our brains. They form a distortion cloud that prevents us from seeing what is really truth in most situations. It’s these filters that allows us to all see the world in slightly different ways.
Sometimes this is a good thing. It adds variety to the world. It’s the universe expressing itself through many different perspectives. Maybe it’s all by design.
The problem happens when we let our filters cloud our true reality. This is the source of many of the world’s problems. This is what we seek to nullify when we meditate.
The Yoga Sutras speak of the coloring of thought. This is what it means. It’s the filters that mess with our true perception of things the way they are.
Mindfulness and the Present Moment Help Smash the Filters
Practicing mindfulness allows us to live in the present moment. In the present moment, we don’t regret the past or worry about the future. This gives us a much more helpful perspective on what is really in front of our senses at the time. Click here to learn to use mindfulness and smash your filters. It’s eye-opening when you realize just how conned we all are. Not by some great conspiracy, but by our own nature.
Perception is reality after-all, so why not change your perceptions for the better?