One of my biggest peeves, aside from people saying “pet peeve” when “peeve” alone means “annoy, irritate” and “pet” doesn’t actually add anything but a colloquial massage, is the frequently parroted phrase “perception is reality.”
It’s said by women and men delivering keynote addresses at important, transformational conferences. It’s spoken by CEOs to Leadership teams who pass it on to their departments as unquestioned wisdom. It’s shared by uber-professionals as the path, the way, to business success. I hear people say it all the time as though it’s some kind of profound philosophical discovery.
It is not profound, nor is it true. Perception is not reality; this phrase is a cop out. It’s literally a substitute for one deciding to ignore or even actively evade reality.
There are not 7 billion realities on this planet, which the phrase holds as truth. There is one reality and it is unforgiving of how any of us interpret it or feel about it. Reality is rigid, principled. Ours is not to perceive reality based on our emotions, ours is to observe, recognize, and accept the nature of the universe in which we exist.
What do people mean when they say “perception is reality?” They mean that emotions factor into one’s decision making process when it comes to their subjective values. What are they insinuating when they tell you this in the guise of advice? They’re telling you that you should subjugate yourself to the decision making processes, emotions, and opinions of others.
This is silly. How others perceive me is supposed be relevant to my life? People will say “you could hurt career chances” or “you could lose clients” if they perceive you a certain way. Am I to be held hostage to the emotions of others, or can I determine that I’m okay with the consequences of living life consciously?
The “perception” folks have little need for and knowledge of self-esteem. It’s a weak phrase and wholly incorrect. Rant over.