Perception is a very interesting phenomenon. it can be defined as the way the brain interprets very ambiguous visual representations to provide the most likely explanation. These explanations are mainly as a result of the experiences we had in the past.
Taking, for example, you were brought up in a poor family with very limited material wealth. Your constant need for money makes you adopt a mentality of scarcity. As time goes by, you end up with negative beliefs about money, as a result of your past.
Alternatively, if you were brought up in a wealthy family in a nice neighborhood. You had all the luxuries you could ever think of. Long-distance travels, amazing holidays and so on. In this scenario, the presence of wealth is a common thing. Therefore you always anticipate money to be always available.
Perception has its basis on the model of the world as constructed by our mind, reflecting our beliefs and opinions. Stephen R. Covey, via his book “the 7 habits of highly effective people” reminds us that for us to effectively change ourselves, we have to change our perceptions first.
Another example s marriage. We have those who consider relationships to end up in divorce or separation, and those who wholly believe in the institution of marriage.
Neither of the parties is wrong or right.
Their perceptions are based on past life experiences. They have a distorted view of the world, caused by self-made life filters.
Judgment Interferes with perception.
Thomas Dewar says, “Minds are like parachutes, they operate best when open.
Most people are quick to judge, without offering the other parties benefit of the doubt. Mostly they use old memories as a reference to inaccurately assess the situation. Think about recent occurrences where you were quick to jump into conclusions, assumed you were right and the other party was wrong.
Recently a friend of mine saw a young man refuse to offer a seat to an elderly man standing by. His first instinct was that he lacked manners for failing to do so.
Only later did he realize that the young man had a prosthetic leg as a result of an accident and had been advised to find a seat to reduce pressure on the leg.
At the bust stop, my friend engaged the man who gave him the whole story and he felt very sorry for earlier conclusions.
This explains perfectly how judgment interferes with our perception. Its never until we dig deeper that we get a clear picture of the situation.
Robert Cialdini states in his book “Influence: the psychology of persuasion” ‘ “often we never realize that our attitude towards something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past”.
With my friend being quick to judge, she referred to her biased memory to process the case at hand., then wrongly concluded that the young man was rude, which was not the case.
This case strengthens the need to avoid quick judgments since we bring onboard our biased experiences to analyze the situation.
Whenever you find yourself in a situation not so pleasing, instead of adding your narrative to it, try the below viewpoint instead.
“Is there anything else I’m not aware of related to this?”
Most of the time, there is always something. Being quick to judge limits your ability to experience reality.
Relationships contribute to the expansion of our reality by allowing us to explore new ideas within a unique environment. How you perceive reality will always be subject to past experiences and beliefs.