Perception has always been a concept that has given me much interest, and has lead me down interesting paths of thought. I understand my own perception, and I understand it pretty well. I might not always understand why something affects me a certain way, or why I like or dislike certain things, but for the most part I have a good idea of my own perception of reality. The perception of everyone around me however, is a whole new story.
We each have this perception, or world view, of reality that is based on all of the things that have happened to us over our lifetimes. Being born as a clean slate, or “tabula rasa”, we have absorbed stimuli and information from the time we were born. This stimuli has molded each one of us in a very unique way to make us who we are today at this moment. Sometimes this stimuli affects us very directly and we have a vivid understanding of how this stimuli affects our perception of the world. Sometimes though this stimuli affects our subconscious, sometimes in addition to our conscious mind, and sometimes all on it’s own.
Either way, the stimuli we have been exposed to throughout our life up to this moment greatly affects how we see the world. It has a profound impact on how very specific events affect us, relative to the others people around us. One very obvious example of the differences in perception between different people are the various political rallies and events. How can it be that such a large group of people can get together and vehemently fight for a specific cause for the good of the people, while on the other side of the street rages a counter rally waged against the very same cause organized by people who also passionately believe in their side of the issue. It comes down to the fact that these two groups have very different perceptions, or world views, of the same reality. Giving them a personalized reality that only they can truly understand. It is pretty hard to be able to say which side is right, because each side believes very strongly that their side is the right side. The only way to solve this argument is to agree to disagree and realize that what is right for one person, may not be right for the next one due to varying perceptions of reality.
For a more subtle example, we can look at the meaning of words, and how the same exact word can have a different connotation to different people. The definition of the word connotation paints a good backdrop: the associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning. Typically there isn’t a universal definition for the connotation of a word. The connotation is very independent to each person. I will use for an example the word “alone.” To many the word alone has a somewhat negative, dark feeling to it. A feeling of isolation or despair. To many others, however; those who enjoy spending time alone alone, this word can have a warm, comforting connotation. Two very different connotations, or perceptions, of the exact same word.
So how can we possibly go through life and relate to anyone around us if we all have such varying perceptions of reality? If every person we talk to takes the language we use in a slightly different way, or worse, in a much different way which can lead to gross misunderstanding. How can we avoid these misunderstandings and communicate in a way that allows our listener to understand our thoughts the way we do? I have found that patience goes a long way. Just take a deep breath, and patiently come to the realization that your perception is different than your counterparts’. Just do the best you can, be as immaculate with your word as possible, and clarify whenever you feel it is needed.