There are over 7 billion people on earth. Each has their own circumstances: where they live, who they are, what they do, how much they have. Those things make up the “world” they inhabit.
But each also has their own world—inside of them—which is where they really live. That world is not defined literally by what is around them, but by their perceptions of that reality.
Unfortunately, those perceptions are flawed. For all of us. Yet, we still allow them to shape what our inner world will be like. Too often, our perceptions are our reality.
Our Perceptions Are Our Reality
There’s something about the movie The Matrix that has captivated millions of people for almost 20 years. The story takes place is a future in which the reality perceived by most humans is actually a simulation created by machines to subdue the population.
Neo, a computer programmer played by Keanu Reeves, learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines with other people who have been freed from that “dream world.”
Crazy movie, huh? Yet, somehow, it reaches us. Perhaps because we understand we all have our own versions of reality, and that none is exactly right. Yet we still allow them to define our world.
Our perceptions are how we understand and interpret what is going on around us. And that awareness, flawed or not, defines much of how we think and feel about life.
But many of our perceptions are wrong.
The Problem with Perceptions
There are many types of mistaken perceptions we form about the world around us based on:
- Our reaction to circumstances – Too many of us allow our sense of well-being—our inner world—to be ruled by our circumstances. Most days we just trudge along. When things go well, it seems all is right with the world and, when trials come along, all seems bleak.
- Our interpretation of others – Our lack of empathy impedes our connection to others. We misread what it is like in their world and interpret our subconscious perceptions as reality.
- Our awareness of ourselves – You would think we could at least clearly perceive ourselves. Yet, our thoughts are random, our feelings a mystery, and our emotions out of control.
- Our comparison to what life is supposed to be – We form impressions of what we think we deserve and what other people have and conclude, therefore, our life is not good enough.
- Our discernment of God – In seeking to understand God, “We see through a glass darkly.” His ways are not our ways, and our clouded perceptions keep us from knowing the real Him.
With all that confusion, is our fate to remain a hapless prisoner of our perceptions?
Reshaping Our Inner World
Our inner world is shaped by our perceptions, which are often wrong. Where does that leave us?
Hopefully, better than before. Because, if we know our perceptions are flawed, we won’t always trust them. And we can work to improve them: By claiming contentment in spite of circumstance. Choosing empathy over judgment, and getting to know ourselves better. By avoiding comparisons to what life should be and surrendering to who God is. By choosing a healthy mindset.
Our perceptions are our reality, if we allow them to be. But, if we accept that our inner world is largely what we perceive, we will no longer be a prisoner of flawed perceptions.
We will escape The Matrix.
Question: Which of the five types of flawed perceptions above are you most prone to?
Action: For one day, choose your own inner world: a hopeful one, not controlled by perceptions.