One day when I was in high school, I was enlightened with three words, “Perception is reality.” Little did I know that those words, that revelation, the specific arrangement of three relatively ordinary words would be getting me through life.
That phrase’s meaning has grown and evolved as I have grown and evolved as a human being. It was first meant to help me maintain a positive attitude. That if I perceived the optimistic outlook on a situation or circumstance then that would be my reality of it. Not that my circumstance changed, but that I had a positive perception of it.
Then after I graduated, I also learned that my perception of people is tied in with this phrase. My family always taught me to see people the same regardless of where they came from, what they look like, or what their reputations are. My mother, the wisest person I know, always taught me to come to my own conclusions about people and not base it on rumors or what other people think. She wanted us to love people, not love popularity or favoritism. This is invaluable advice.
After I got out of the bubble called “high school” I was able to put this to the test. I met so many people that changed my mind about stereotypes that I had never even realized I was judging. For instance, in the small town I grew up in sexual orientation was not something typically discussed. Who am I kidding? Sex wasn’t really discussed unless it was to say, “sex=bad” or “sex=wrong”. When sexual orientation was discussed it was more tied to the idea of homosexual, bisexual, transgender as “issues” not linked with people, human beings, fellow members of society. I can say with full confidence that I never hated anyone in this category, I was just ignorant. So my reality for so many years was a false perception. The more I developed friendships and bonds with people of a different sexual orientation than me, the more I realized that I should never view someone with a blanket statement. We are all humans and deserve to be treated as such. Not favored over others because of specific trait or treated poorly because of the same, but treated as an equal. Seeing people in their individuality has opened my eyes to see the world differently. My reality is to see the person, not the label. This includes more than just sexual orientation… height, weight, religion, attractiveness, intelligence, mental state, talent, or any other grouping that might exist.
Having learned that lesson, I believe that the evolution of thought continues. My husband thinks differently than anyone else I know. His perception is his reality. My reality is different from his most of the time. Does my perception make my reality any more real than his? No. Am I saying that he should be taken off his medication? No. Am I saying that his hallucinations are tangible? No. Am I saying he should stop treatment? No. Am I saying that he is right? It is possible. In all of the absurd delusions, hallucinations, thoughts, and conclusions he reaches, it may be entirely possible that he is the only one in the world that has it right. Then again, he may not. Who am I, though, to judge him? Who am I to stifle his creativity? Who am I that my reality is superior to his? My goal is to help him find balance and peace in his thoughts, not label him as crazy and never listen to a word he says again.
Every wonderful change in the world, every discovery, every invention would not be possible without thinking outside the box. Who knows, the world may be forever changed because my husband was born to think this way. Scratch that… I know at least one world was forever changed, mine.