THE DECEPTION OF PERCEPTION
Jack E. Albright
The story of the Prodigal Son stands as a classic example of the deception of perception. The older brother never left the pampering and lush living in his wealthy father’s house. But we are shocked when this spoiled youth reveals his perception of the life of luxury. The surprising revelation comes when he refuses to welcome his brother and whines that he has been neglected, deprived and generally unappreciated. “You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” (Luke 15:29 NIV) How sad it is when people falsely perceive that they are doomed to misery because they got less attention, fewer gifts or other perks than their siblings did.
Dr. Phil said, “The way we view things is really only a reflection of our self-beliefs, and not necessarily 'how it really is'. There is no reality - only perception".
Carlos Castaneda, from Journey to Ixtlan: “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
A woman around age 40 came to her pastor for counseling. She was known to be depressed, pouty and sad. Her story was that when she was almost twelve her father had called her fat and she could not forgive him for ruining her life. To punish him she would pout and cry each time he tried to show love to her.
A hard working day laborer saved enough money to buy his older son a $15.00 bicycle so he could get a job delivering Western Union telegrams. His younger son complained when his father refused to buy him a $10.00 puppy to play with. Forty years later the younger son still complained that the father’s favoritism ruined his life.
Muhammad Ali delivered a knock-out punch with these words: “The man who views the world at fifty, the same as he did at twenty, has wasted thirty years of his life.”
I met a bright boy with a pleasing disposition in a correctional facility. I was teaching a four-week class and he repeatedly asked if he was passing. Each time I assured him that he was passing and not to worry about it. The fourth time he asked about his grades, I asked him why he could not believe that he was passing? His answer is classic of a person who inwardly feels permanently damaged with early childhood impressions. He answered: “I can’t be passing because my dad told me many times that I was a loser and would never be a winner.” He was a winner in this class, but was unable to rise above his deceptive perception.
Many of us have handicap license plates or signs that we display when we park in a handicap zone at stores. This indicates that a doctor has certified that we have a walking difficulty. Many of these people have a happy disposition and even tease each other about who could win a footrace. On the other hand those people who have not outgrown childhood rivalries may find themselves unhappy. An anonymous writer said it this way: “A hostile person lives in a hostile world. A loving person lives in a loving world.”
We all create the world around us by our thoughts and beliefs. Our perception of events (and of ourselves) determines how we experience life. If we believe that life is gloomy, then we will perceive gloom in every event. By that perception, we draw gloom into our lives and gloom is what we will experience.
Epictetus said it this way: “Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen.”
The deception of perception.