Perception is reality

Life is a highway ...

Life is a highway …

We often hear that perception is reality. And perception is based on interpretation. And many times the things we do or say can be interpreted in different ways.

A recent experience made me realise that we interpret words to match what’s already in our heads. Then we respond accordingly. And often what happens backs up our interpretation.

If we’re stressed, we hear everything as an accusation. We think that what’s going on in our heads is actually what’s happening in the world. We don’t realise that there’s a difference.

A few weeks ago week in Europe, some colleagues and I were on the autobahn and the traffic came to an unexpected stop. We were on a road without speed limits, doing zero. We waited for ten minutes and still the traffic didn’t move.

We got out of the bus. I was interested to see what was wrong. Had someone broken down? Had there been an accident? I walked up to the truck ahead of us and asked the driver what the problem was. I thought as a regular commuter he may have some local knowledge.

He started waving his arms angrily and said ‘Where the hell am I’m going to go, you tell me what the hell can I do?’ He pointed ahead and said ‘Can you drive a fu*king truck?’

All he heard was people blowing their horns. He was clearly frustrated and stressed; perhaps he had a deadline to meet. He didn’t hear my question, he heard an accusation: ‘Get on with it, get moving, we’re behind you’, because that reinforced his reality.

We do this every day. We create a reality. Then misinterpret and reinforce it. Perception may not be reality and this can get us into trouble.


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