Updated: Mar 26, 2021
My perception is my reality. Your perception is your reality. Their perception is their reality.
Perception is based on how our brain receives, labels, and compartmentalizes the data we are receiving through our senses. As we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste our brain takes this information and organizes it in a way we can understand. This does not come through in one beautiful high definition video. There are gaps within the information we receive and our brain fills in these gaps based on our own life experiences to make sense of what is occuring. This is why two people can be in the same situation and experience it differently; because both people encountered a different path to get to that exact moment.
Beliefs, attitudes, judgements, and bias' make up who we are based on every moment in our lives. Our beliefs form from a young age; each interaction, positive and negative contributes to our beliefs and the attitudes we feel. According to Peter Senge, we select certain data observed, add personal and cultural meaning, make assumptions based on these meanings, draw conclusions and adopt beliefs about the world which determines our actions. This is the Ladder of Inference; a reflective loop, where our beliefs influence what we observe. It is in our nature to be judgemental and form bias'; this is neither good nor bad, it is the truth. It is our own awareness of this truth and how we navigate it which determines how we choose to treat and support those with similar or different beliefs than us.
If our perception is our reality and it is determined by every experience we have throughout our lives, then how can anyone ever argue a perception to be wrong? If our beliefs are formed based on all that has happened in our life, how could anyone ever tell us what we feel is incorrect? As a society we have created labels to help identify every object, living or not and categorize by characteristics and nuances. Then we turn around and compete with one another, arguing our beliefs to be the only truth, our truth to be obvious to everyone, our beliefs to be based on true facts, and the facts we select to be the only facts which exist. This causes discrimination, prejudice, and injustice.
Beliefs, attitudes, judgments, and bias' are a part of who we are as individuals, they should not be what drives us as a society. When we determine a person's value and worth based on the labels we have created and given to one another we challenge the simple concept of inclusion. Take a moment to consider what inclusion means to you, now reflect on every bias and judgement you have let exclude someone from something they were deserving of. That is where we need to remind ourselves, our perception is our reality and no one should be excluded from any experience based on the labels we've created or perceptions we believe to be the truth. Every perception is the truth, it is the person's truth who is living it. And the only perception we are able to change is our own.