What is perception? Our sensory receptors are constantly collecting information and what we make out of that collected information is based on our value sets, privileges, experiences, what we have had a lack of and various other factors and it is very subjective. Our perceptions are shaped by what we see and consume.
As an example, someone who is deceived in love will view the world as untrustworthy, meaning that our experiences determine our perceptions and, therefore, our worldviews. What we perceive at any moment is not only determined by sensory input but various other personal factors.
Having said that, perceptions can build limiting beliefs, which is a thought or state of mind that you think is the absolute truth. These beliefs could be about yourself, people, or the world. It can have several negative effects on you and can keep you stuck in a negative state of mind and hinder you from living the life you truly desire. Based on our convictions, we determine our actions. Some of these thinking patterns unnecessarily hold us back from who we want to become.
How Are Limiting Beliefs Formed?
Limiting beliefs are formed based on our previous experiences. If someone has had a bad monsoon experience during a vacation, they will dread monsoon trips in the future, though they will not always have a miserable experience.
If we see someone smiling on camera, we immediately believe that they are happy. Social media affects our perspective greatly. We see someone with a product, marketing how well it works for them, we blindly believe that it will work, and ignore other behind-the-scenes factors like lighting, camera, editing, filters, and Photoshop. Just seeing what they show, we have made a decision and believe that it works.
Consider another example: we see an influencer on a Maldives vacation with their lover. We perceive their life to be perfect and they are emotionally fulfilled. We don’t look at the backend of their life. Their struggles before and after are unknown to us. We don’t even know If they were upset when they posted that picture. We easily come to a conclusion that ultimately defines how we interact with the world.
Our senses have gathered that information through the pictures, and we make a conclusion based on what happiness is supposed to look like, which is what forms our perception.
How Does Social Media Affect Perception?
Social media doesn’t play a fair game and can change the way we perceive reality and ourselves. We tend to believe that everything we see on our feed is real, but it isn’t, especially the way people look and their flawless skin; the beach bodies are distorted, and it’s sad that looking at those distorted images we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. On these platforms, users tend to only show the most positive aspects of their lives, giving a false sense of reality.
It affects our thinking, the way we make judgments about our life and, in turn, how we live our life. The real problem is that it distorts our perceptions of reality and causes us to create a false mental model of society.
When we see things through our senses, it determines what we believe; therefore, our senses and our consumption through them are very important in determining what we believe, so our perception is directly related and influenced by what we consume.
Evaluate Your Conclusions
We are doing so many things to please the world that we don’t know what really makes us happy. We do all these things mindlessly because it’s a trend, it’s cool, and everyone else does it. In essence, we are perceiving information that has been controlled by someone else, which is in itself terrifying. Our lives will be exhausting if we don’t regain control.
Most concerning is the assumption that people we follow on social media are better than us in terms of happiness, love, and money, even if they are our equals in real life. The problem is, we place someone else on a pedestal and think they are superior to us, and we subconsciously give our brain a message that we are lower than them and psychologically put ourselves down and feel like we can’t match them, creating a sense of hopelessness. It gives the brain a message that there is a lack of something in our lives and puts us in a lack mindset.
We tend to base our judgement only on the controlled information that is available to us, while in reality, the whole picture is completely different. Our senses take the one-sided information; thus, we build a perception about an influencer which is not the whole reality. We must consider all facets of a situation before reaching a conclusion, or else our perspective is likely to be biased in a particular direction. Our distorted version of reality can be redefined by seeking therapy to decode those limiting beliefs and find out what it is that we really want.
Aditi Chandanani is a mental health coach specialising in cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming, life coaching, and mindfulness coaching.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of The Gaggler.