The following text is copied from the book “I have Parkinson’s, but Parkinson’s does not have me” page 30-31. The example shows clearly that we all perceive reality in different ways
Imagine that you have dressed up in your finest clothes and gone to the theater. You are standing among your friends in the theater lobby, in the little bar just below the graceful spiral of the grand staircase. It is intermission, and you are juggling a cup, a saucer, a spoon, a packaged creamer and, especially, the hot coffee in one hand. In the other you hold the evening’s program and a pastry you have been vainly trying to get a bite of for some time now. You see around you others who, like yourself, would have a lot of use for one additional hand. The performance is sold out and the atmosphere is excited. There is a happy hubbub filling the lobby, which is jam-packed with people.
Suddenly a loud crack is heard behind and above you. You start to whirl around but do not make it more than halfway before a hard shove knocks you down. You lose control of your coffee cup and hear how one of your friends screams when the hot coffee hits her. You keep your cramped grip on the saucer and spoon right up to the moment you feel the porcelain smash against the marble floor and fragments pierce your hand.
A moment later, while you are getting up at the same time you fumble for your glasses that also hit the floor when you fell, a great many thoughts race through your brain. Thoughts such as: What kind of idiot was that who ran into me?! Are all the loonies let out tonight?! I’ll give the fool something to think about...! Quick as a flash, you have created a picture of reality for yourself. You are angry and ready to counterattack.
Through a program passed down through millennia to assure your survival, your brain has tripped an automatic mechanism that prepares your body for its highest level of activity. The program is in the oldest part of our brain, the so-called reptilian brain. The reaction mechanism it initiates is called “fight or flight.”
However, when you have picked yourself up and gotten your eyeglasses on, here is what you see: A woman is getting up from the floor that is now littered with potting soil, broken fronds of a plant, and the shards of a shattered urn. She smiles uncertainly at you and asks your pardon for ramming into you so hard. Then she continues: “It was only by sheer luck that I happened to look up just when that pot on the edge of the stairs over your head started to tip over.”
Probably it was crowding on the stairs that caused the urn to be nudged and bumped toward and finally over the edge of the stairs that had been decorated, in honor of the opening performance, with gaily colorful plants!
“I did it instinctively when I saw there was no time to warn you,” she continues.
Now something very interesting happens in your brain. Your picture of an attacker is traded for the picture of a rescuer. A perception of reality with a negative charge is exchanged for another that has the precisely opposite charge. All this happens in a fraction of a second.
What you are looking at, instead of your assumed attacker, is a young woman through her quick-witted act, at clear risk of injury to herself, has saved you from a much more serious accident than the one you just got so angry about.
The moral of the story is that we can change our picture of “reality.” What determine it are our thoughts. But ‘you can’t control your thoughts,’ you might be saying? “Oh yes,” I reply, “you surely can.” There is no doubt that you already control your thoughts but perhaps you are not conscious of doing it.
We have all created patterns, or maps if you like, in our brain. They are formed out of all the impressions and experiences we have gained during our passage through life. To a large extent they also come from the feedback we get from those we meet.
Since every one of us has lived a unique life our maps are also unique. From this we can also draw the conclusion that no one experiences identical events precisely alike. Look at that conclusion one more time:
Nobody experiences the same event precisely as others do.
What does that mean to you? How often have I and probably you, too, argued for and even taken action upon the basis, seemingly obvious, that everyone has the same picture of what has happened or not happened!
Plenty of evidence exists that, truly, we are all unique and therefore perceive things in different ways. In the justice system and in the insurance industry there is much work done on so-called ‘witness psychology.’ This is an area of research to explain in detail what causes witnesses, who have all seen the same event, to describe it in completely different ways.
Your conclusions and thoughts?
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