How do you see yourself? How do you see the world around you? How do others see you? Do you take action based on your needs and goals, or is your behavior dependent on others opinion of you? That is fundamentally what perception is.
Victor Frankl the author of the book, ”Man’s search for meaning”, which sold more than 10 million copies, said “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” How he came to this realization you ask? Why did his book become the bestseller you ask? Well, let me tell you his story. Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who spent three years during World War-II living under unspeakable circumstances in several of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps.
While imprisoned, Frankl realized he had one single freedom left: He had the power to determine his response to the horror unfolding around him.
And so he chose to imagine.
He imagined his wife and the prospect of seeing her again. He imagined himself teaching students ,after the war, about the lessons he had learnt.
Frankl survived and went on to document his experiences and the wisdom he had drawn from them. This just goes on to shine a bright light on the fact that human perceptions and how we react to them goes on to impact our lives in a significant manner. Perception,which is supposed to be the key to gaining information and understanding the world around us may actually turn out to be a conundrum in itself where using the incorrect key-lock combo might be the path to extinction instead of the path to survival, for instance, if we take Frankl’s case, and if instead of taking the approach he ended up taking, he had just accepted the sweet embrace of defeat and accustomed himself to his fate, he most probably wouldn’t have made it out alive.
Human perception is as fickle as it could possibly be and as such it’s influenced by two basic thought processes, according to me –
a) Unconscious- Under this the life experiences, our socio-economic background, culture and ,some might even say, our genes mould our unconscious mind in such a way that it has already decided what it’s going to do before the actions actually take place, for an instance, muscle memory could be into play when a person puts on their seat belt like they have seen their parents do all their lives and so they do it for themselves and make it a habit, which might actually end up saving them from certain death.
b) Conscious-The conscious mind is that part of the brain, which tries to validate the decisions taken by the subconscious mind. Conscious mind chooses what is important and should be integrated into our subconscious personality so don’t disregard it as a secondary part.
Our conscious perception of the world is not static but rather relatively stable.
In daily lives we are incapable of being fully subjective or objective but maybe that’s not so bad. Being alive means seeing the world through your own eyes and with your own perception, which is constantly shifting. I hope people take away from my article not a sense of hopelessness but a feeling of empowerment because in my opinion we are not the blank slate waiting to be molded in such a manner that it forms our perception but it’s the world that’s a blank slate waiting to be perceived by us and molded to our liking.