When the map is not necessarily the territory…
You may have heard of the term ‘perception is reality’, but have you really considered what it means? I hadn’t until recently, but the more I understand it’s meaning, the more I am able to understand myself, others and a sometimes seemingly crazy world!
And this is why.
Recently I discovered how only 20% of what I see and hear actually makes it through to be perceived as ‘reality’ inside my head. 20%!
So what happens to the other 80%?
It’s filtered out or distorted by my brain!
When information passes through the eyes and ears (and other senses) into the brain, it firstly passes through a filtering process made up of past experiences, memories, current expectations and conditioning. This filtering plant is called my ‘internal representation’ of the world.
The truth is we all walk around with an internal representation of the external world inside our head based on our past experiences, expectations and conditioning. By and large we don’t consciously realize this, and even if we are a reasonably ‘self-aware’ person who understands the theory of this, we don’t totally have a full grip on the extent of this internal representation because it’s mostly subconscious.
So as information enters our brain via the 5 senses (visual, kinaesthetic, auditory, gustatory (taste) and olfactory (smell)), it passes through our internal filtering system and is – unbeknowns to us – distorted. Once it has been filtered through our experiences, expectations and conditioning, only then does it hit the visual and auditory centres in the brain! Ie, for example, we don’t actually ‘see’ the original picture of what came in through our eyes until the information is first unconsciously censored by our internal representations. Which goes to show why and how 5 different people watching the same car accident will give 5 different stories of what they saw!
Consequently we end up with only 20% of the original facts reaching our consciousness and being ‘re-cognized’. The other 80% is filtered, deleted and distorted on the way.
There are actually many sensible reasons for this happening, because our brain is actually doing us a favour in many ways: there are simply so many ‘bits’ of information ‘out there’ in the world entering our brain at any given time via the senses that it would be overwhelming if everything did get through and we perceived it all in one go.
However, it doesn’t serve us is certain situations, for example, when we constantly perceive our world through outmoded information.
For example, if we had a bad break-up with a partner in our teens, and we created a memory, story, beliefs and future expectations as a result of this, it is possible that any potential new candidate will get automatically and unconsciously screened out by these internal representations before they even have a chance!
And this is also why many people have the habit of ‘thinking’ someone is thinking ‘such and such’ about them, when in ‘reality’ this is purely a projection from their own brain due to past experiences.
So I supposed the point of this blog is to bring attention to the fact that what we perceive as our own reality is not necessarily the truth!
Next time you draw a conclusion or have an opinion of something or someone, it might pay to check ‘is this my perception or is it reality?’ It could be hard to say!