Perception: Changing Our Reality

A new green plant grows in the center of a tree stump.Yesterday, I played the waiting game to get out of the airport parking lot. In the big picture, everyone had the same intention. But, even as drivers barked insults at each other, attached to “their place in line,” most missed how helping others reach their goals would eventually help all of us get home. We had become so attached to our perceptions, that others were trying to get “their space,” that we had forgotten the power of the community to reach it. If we all cooperated and let someone pull in front of us, the conflicts could have been avoided. But—because of those perceptions—what manifested, in reality, was the very cause and proof that we would get nowhere.

Perception Is Reality

The perceptions of everyone in that lot, vying for a space, was that conflict would ensue, therefore it did. Perception is reality. We have all heard this phrase, but my belief is that we may have heard it so much that the impact and power of its message often goes unnoticed. The question is, when it comes down to it, why do we create our reality the way it is? Because what we perceive in others, the world, and ourselves becomes our physical reality, why do we often choose to indulge our energy, time, and our thoughts upon “battling against” or “passively accepting” reality, as opposed to deciding to change our experiences for the better?

Burned by Perception

The answer is that our perceptions create, on the physical plane, what it is we believe or expect will show up. Our ego creates thoughts. Our body reacts to these thoughts as being true. This, in turn, creates the existence of what we believe we will experience. If we are not conscious of what our ego is telling us, we buy into its reality. I was reminded of this when I was getting ready one morning. While it may be a strange time to experience a spiritual moment, it did became one.

As I reached for the burning hot flat iron resting on my bathroom sink, I realized that I was in danger of burning myself. I quickly moved my hand away. My next thought was that I wanted to wash my hands. I touched the cold-water tap and found that I, indeed, had the sensation of a burned hand. I was feeling the burning sensation that I had expected from the flat iron. My body still held the perception that I was going to get burned by heat, so I still felt the burn.

Similarly, if we perceive, for example, that people are going to judge us, we will see it through every interaction. If we perceive that we will be seen as stupid, insecure, broken, fat, weak, you name it, that will be our experience. If we allow ourselves to indulge in such generalizations about others, and ourselves, the universe cannot help but think that it is supporting us by manifesting exactly what we focus on. In other words, every event, experience, relationship, and interaction will be charged with that energy of what we perceive. And, our physical, emotional, and spiritual self will support those perceptions without awareness. Thus, what we believe becomes real.

The Outside Reflects the Inside

Just as in the case of my being “burned,” though our perceptions may be unconscious, they still shape our reality. With this in mind, what we experience in our day-to-day life can help reflect those unconscious beliefs back to us, for our examination. We just have to look at our outside world to discover our internal perceptions. For example, many of us hold core beliefs that we are not good enough, unworthy, unlovable, a failure, and a multitude of other negative, but powerful notions. While our logical minds know differently, our subconscious minds hook into these entrancing beliefs.

If we truly felt, from our heart’s very core, that we were good enough, for example, we would not accept negative, abusive, or toxic relationships, nor other negative types of situations. In other words, if we changed those perceptions and negative beliefs about ourselves, our physical world would also change to reflect that energy shift. We would not stay in the abusive relationships. We would not continue to abandon ourselves. We would not continue to ignore self-care and our physical health.

The fact is that we will continue to see life through whatever perceptions we have created, unless we decide to change it—which we can. That’s not to say that it is easy, but once we own this fact, we cannot sit in a passive stance anymore—only believing that life happened to us—and expect to heal. Instead, we can learn to change our perceptions, to experience change in our day-to-day lives. When we do change those core perceptions, a change cannot help but occur on the physical plane. The physical world we see will begin to reflect what we want to see in our lives, created through intention, rather than what our unconscious perceptions created in reality, by default.

© Copyright 2010 by By Sarah Jenkins, MC, LPC, CPsychol, therapist in Tempe, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Egon

    Egon

    January 12th, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    This is very true, I completely agree with you. The scenario you mentioned about the parking lot is just spot on. I have, like most others, experienced it many a times. Its not like each one of us wants to honk, honk, abuse and get ahead but we do so because we think all the others are out to do so and we would be left behind if we didn’t do the same. This perception makes each one in the traffic do the same, thereby creating problems that didn’t exist in the first place!

  • themuse

    themuse

    January 12th, 2010 at 10:53 PM

    Wonderful article, Sarah. I think the ego vs the heart is a constant battle. When you reflect on where your negative beliefs about yourself actually originate, the source is murky now and then. That’s when you realize you never chose that yourself. It was foisted upon you. And that means it can be dropped and you can choose not to believe it anymore. There’s always, always, choice.

  • Sugarlove

    Sugarlove

    January 12th, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    Since New Year, I’ve made a conscious effort to think positively and be aware of my thoughts. It’s incredible how much negativity flows between your ears you fail to register consciously if you’re not careful! Great article, Sarah!

  • Jackie

    Jackie

    January 12th, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    Sarah, your experience with the iron and the cold-water tap reminds me of those Halloween games where the kids are blindfolded and put their hands in jars of ‘worms’ (cooked spaghetti) or ‘eyeballs’ (peeled grapes). The perception scares them – not the reality, even when they know it’s not possibly true deep down.

  • Belle

    Belle

    January 12th, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    In his book Illusions author Richard Bach shows how our perception can and does change as we do. We need to pause on occasion to see that. When I start thinking that something never will change or can’t, I reread this quote.

    The simplest questions are the most profound.

    Where were you born?
    Where is your home?
    Where are you going?
    What are you doing?

    Think about these once in awhile, and watch your answers change.

  • george H.

    george H.

    January 13th, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    It is so important to be positive mentally and not get bogged down by the whole lot of negative energy around us… there are a lot of people out there with negativity but we should not let that get to us…we should always maintain our positive outlook and behave and act according to that.

  • Calla

    Calla

    January 13th, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    Huh that is interesting. What a real life changer this could be if we could somehow find a way to flip looking at a situation that we initially think of as negative and finding a way to see it as a positive instead.

  • craig T.

    craig T.

    January 13th, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    It is all in our mind… if we are low on confidence, we will surely turn out looking bad and coming as someone without talent… but if we are confident of our acts, no matter what we do, it will surely invite praise and awe.

  • Sarah Jenkins

    Sarah Jenkins

    January 20th, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Thanks for the feedback on this article…It really does strike me how perception impacts so many choices, experiences, and thoughts in our lives. We just have to see it, catch it, & notice it, before we assume that what we think is always real. We all have different perceptions, and just assume that the outside world reflects ours. Thanks for visiting this healing circle blog everyone!

  • Cindy Anne

    Cindy Anne

    May 20th, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    I do believe that we create our own realities to a large extent. However,as much as I would like to think that we can entirely create our own outcomes,I cannot believe that this is the case. If it were, how is it that many innocent children get abused on a day to day basis. How can we account for ‘will’ against ‘will’. An evil person’s intent to harm someone, and their sick vision as it pertains to a victim who has nothing but innocence and purity in their heart.

    I realize that I have ‘run a little bit off of the rails’ in terms of what you are talking about, but I am really hopeing that someone will help me to rectify in my mind the main dilemma that I face when it comes to ‘quantum physics’. I recognize that I have alot to learn on this topic so please forgive me if I have overlooked the obvious.

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