Perception is your interpretation of reality, based on where you are standing in space and time, and processed through all of your filters and biases*. Unfortunately, or actually perhaps fortunately, there is no way to avoid this, and there is no way to base your choices on reality.
You cannot, as a human being, consciously comprehend reality. Instead, your consciousness is presented with an interpretation of reality, filtered by your subconsciousness from the input received by all your senses. This interpretation is what you must use to make your choices. If you were standing directly in front of the building pictured above, you would be forced (assuming no prior knowledge) to make any choices based on it being three stories tall. If you were to move to the side, however, your perception changes, and with it the basis for your decisions.
There is no way to avoid this. You can only work with what your senses feed your subconscious, and out of that, only what it passes on to your conscious mind. This is probably fortunate, as the sheer vastness of the amount of information contained by reality would likely overwhelm your conscious mind in seconds. Unfortunately, however, it does mean that your choices may be based on a falsehood, as any bias you have is automatically inserted before you ever have a chance to consider anything else.
This doesn’t mean that your subconscious mind rejects anything that doesn’t match your bias, or that you can’t perceive contrary information. It simply means things are “colored” by your biases, beliefs, and other such filters. That is, if you are “biased” against spiders, when you see one in the corner, you may see something dark and scary, and may even perceive it to be larger than it actually is. On the other hand, if you have no such bias, you may see a harmless critter (or, with other biases, see a life worth carefully preserving, something to add to your bug collection, or something else entirely).
Other things that you might not think of fall into this category of biases and filters, as well. You can have a bias for or against financial opportunities… meaning that you either filter them out, or give them special attention. Your taste in music, art, and humor are all biases as well. All communication passes through your filters, which may be different between “groups” of people (like lawyers, doctors, politicians, preachers, or even as general as men vs women) as well as between individuals.
For example, consider the phrase “I love you.” The source of the phrase makes a huge amount of difference in how you interpret it, as it passes through your filters for that individual and whatever classes you associate them with. If your wife says it, it passes through filters associated with her, meaning you perceive it differently than if, say, a stranger said it to you. With your wife, it might make you feel a little closer (or want to be closer, which is not the same), it might make you feel the love you have for her, or if you’re having marital problems, it might make you think of those problems. With a stranger, it’s likely to creep you out, make you want to push them away (emotionally/mentally at the very least… depending on how close they are, it might make you want to do it physically, too), and bring all kinds of other negative things to mind, as well, although this depends greatly on the groups you associate that stranger with. Think about the difference in how you would react if a beautiful woman said that to you, compared to an ugly woman, an effeminate appearing man, or a biker in full tattoos and leather.
Fortunately, your conscious mind IS capable of reviewing its filters and biases, and so you can change the way you perceive information from the world around you. It’s not alwayseasy to do so, but you can do it. You can choose to change, remove, or add filters, but first you have to learn to become aware of them first. My next article will deal with how to do this, how to become aware, and from there how to choose which filters you want.
* These filters and biases mentioned in the article are what I call patterns elsewhere on the site. The speed and accuracy with which these filters are applied is what most people call intelligence.