facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the
emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in
which the seeds must grow."
child awakens in the night and sees a monster in the room. In the
morning, it becomes clear that the monster was a coat thrown carelessly
over a chair. A hiker sees a bear, but at second glance, it is a
gnarled stump. A cyclist sees two pedestrians in raincoats, but
as he rides closer, it turns out to be a barricade with yellow
warning lights on top. A young woman runs away crying, because she felt
that no one cared, but someone did. An older woman knows someone has
been coming into her apartment and stealing her things, but her
valuables lie forgotten deep in a drawer.
events show that interpretation comes early in the act of perception.
We get a sense of something and toss up a hypothesis of what's going
on, and then we confirm or disconfirm our suspicions. Our initial
assumptions may be based on previous experience and upon our beliefs
about what is likely. One may rarely see things that look like bears in
the city, but on a lonely mountain trail, there they are. An ambiguous
form in the night becomes a monster to a child, because monsters are
where the danger is and children live in a world
of ambiguity. The young woman perceives misunderstanding and
lack of care, because that is what she has felt before and has come to
often we perceive what we expect. We aren't dealing with reality. We
are projecting our expectations upon it. We get what we expect to get.
It seems that we are especially quick to project when danger is
involved. Our brain's fear circuits are set up not to wait for all the
information to come in, but to come up with a fabricated scenario that
can guide our next action. If the cyclist sees a couple of pedestrians
in the street, his muscles need to prepare to brake as soon as
possible. Avoiding running into pedestrians is a high priority, naming
the actual object in the path can come later. So the rider's mind may
see pedestrians when there is limited and ambiguous sensory input. As
more information comes in, the mind can revise its initial perception.
is like the TV networks projecting a winner based upon partial election
results. Most of the time they are right, but not always, and the act
of projecting has the risk of influencing the election results. So does
our act of projecting an idea onto our sense perceptions.
we are overly sensitive to interpersonal danger, we come across as
fearful and vulnerable. We may then be inviting predators into our
lives. We sense rejection where there is none and eliminate the
possibility of a supportive relationship forming. If we respond to our
perceptions with defensive anger, we generate aversion in others and we
get more of what we expect.
that while the universe is out there, we are each generating our
perceptions of it, and we are creating responses to it with partial
information. Be alert to those moments when you make a judgment before
all the information is in, and notice when you make the shift to a more
realistic view. In other words, be alert to when you are prejudging.
that we prejudge, make snap assessments, in the service of fear. Try to
notice when you are doing that out of habit. Contemplate whether that
habit serves you and whether you can temper it.
Always seek to be more mindful. Observe yourself in the act of perception. Slow down and notice your responses to your senses.
to be less driven by fear and anger. Allow for more ambiguity with the
expectation that sometimes what will be revealed will be wonderful.
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