Perception and Reality
Perception is how our brain translates the things that we see and feel. It is subject to our own interpretation of a situation. People often confuse perception with that of reality. Reality is things as they really are. Our belief systems, our education, our past experiences and just who we are as a person shape how we perceive things. When it comes to the paranormal field, beliefs have a massive influence on how we perceive a situation. For example if someone doesn't believe in ghosts and something strange happens in their house, they are more likely to blame it on some sort of natural phenomena. Someone however who is very much into the spirit world may have the exact same experience, and their perception is that it is something paranormal. So who is right?
How reality appears to us depends on what kind of glasses we view the world in. The exact same thing can happen to 2 people in a room, yet they can both walk away with a completely different perception on what has happened. To them, their perception of the situation is their reality and in their mind, they are both right. The challenge in any situation is to separate perception from reality. While you may ask a 3rd party to decide this, again you are potentially being influenced by their own perception of what has happened. When everyone thinks so differently, how the hell are we supposed to know what the actual reality is? What actually happened?
There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception. Aldous Huxley
While our perception and reality often get jumbled up, there is actually a gap between the two. By identifying this gap, we can in some ways separate perception from reality. It is here that can be the challenging part. It is accepting the possibility that our perception may not in fact be correct. To us we may feel in our gut and based on our knowledge and everything we experience that we are confident that we have correctly identified a situation. But how do we really know?
A someone who applies a lot of critical thinking when it comes to investigating the paranormal, I often look for natural in a situation. I have had people stand next to me and experience something completely different to what I have. They are completely confident in their experience and to them they feel they have experienced something paranormal. I interpret the experience differently. I have seen and felt things differently and come up with a completely different explanation. It doesn't mean that I am right. Maybe there was something 'paranormal' going on and I closed myself off to it. It also doesn't mean that they are right. Maybe it really was something natural. This is the whole point of this article. How do we know who is right? How we do know what truthfully really happened? The answer is in all honesty we don't know, because our perceptions makes us think we are right and our perceptions are bias.
We can say from a scientific point of view that nothing about the afterlife has been proven. Some people need to see figures and need to see things in black and white. That doesn't make them wrong. Some people are confident in their own self and their connection with the universe. They don't need the numbers on paper because they feel it every day. That doesn't make them wrong either. Both people are simply expressing what they believe to be the reality of the situation.
The good news is according to a lot of people in psychology is that a person's perception is not fixed. It considered to be flexible, meaning quite simply people can change their minds. What is important here is that a person is not manipulated into changing their mind through perception. When it comes to the paranormal field, I don't think we can simply tell someone to change their mind because you are essentially asking them to change their whole belief system. What I think should happen is people from all walks of paranormal life need to understand both sides of the spectrum. If they learn about the spiritual and the scientific side, it can become easier to bridge that gap between perception and reality. Only focusing on the one side in some ways can be altering or holding back our perception of things. You don't have to change your mind. You don't have to change someone else's mind. You have to try and approach each situation with a clear, unbiased and unclouded mind and see where it takes you.
Expectation alters perception
Remember expectation alters perception. You can go into an investigation thinking that because you are investigating the number 1 advertised most haunted location in the world that you are going to have an amazing night full of paranormal activity. What happens by the end of the night? You may have had a few things happen, but if it hasn't lived up to your expectations, you are going to walk away disappointed. Alternatively you may have someone who have never investigated before and was unaware of the 'hype' surrounding a location. they don't have an expectation and have nothing to compare it to. If a few things happen no matter how small, they are likely to walk away pretty excited and intrigued. You have people walking in and experiencing the same thing, but their perception of how it went is completely different.
It is important when it comes to the paranormal, to walk in with a clear mind free of expectation. If you set a bar high, it is going to be harder to reach. Open yourself up to the possibility that you could be wrong. Talk to your peers. Review the evidence. Remember things like a recording and in particular video recordings are usually an unbiased point of view that show things as a whole. Don't just review the evidence but play back your experience in your head as well. You also perceive things differently when you aren't in the heat on the moment running on adrenaline. Hindsight can offer a lot of clarity.
Ultimately it is important to understand we are not here to decide who is right and who is wrong. We are here for the experience and where it takes us in our pursuit for answers. By opening our mind to both sides, it hopefully allows the journey to become a bit clearer. There are clearly things out there that we don't yet quite understand. Maybe the reality of the situation is that we aren't supposed to know...... but we can sure at least try to find out!
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