Five Basic Assumptions: Perception is Projection

Aloha,

 

Here is a sneak peek of my book Find Your Purpose, Master Your Path. This is part 1 of a 5-part series I’ll be sharing with you! Thank you to all of my amazing students who have taught me how to present this information in the best way possible. 🙂

 

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1: Perception is Projection
The first of the four basics is perception is projection. Perception is projection
says that you’re not so much perceiving the external world as you are projecting
what you carry inside out onto the world around you. So the world is a reflection
of your inner thoughts, feelings, values, beliefs. In other words, the outer world is a reflection of what’s going on inside.

 

People tend to take two extreme views on this basic assumption. Some people
reject it completely. “That’s not possible. There is a table here. It’s not just in
my head.” They take a very physical, Newtonian, point of view. Others go to the
opposite extreme, especially when they first learn this concept. “Everything is
inside my head. You don’t even exist. You’re not real. Therefore, I can treat you
however I want.” I remember in the early days of Neuro-Linguistic Programming
(NLP), if someone said something nasty to someone else, the speaker would
justify it with, “Well, perception is projection.” Even as a 13-year-old, I couldn’t
buy that life worked that way.

 

Perception is projection is not an absolute but exists along a spectrum. Jung,
of all people, would have recognized this and would have applauded Huna’s
perspective on this. For example, I think Jung would have hated the way that
individuals walk around today and proclaim, “I’m an extrovert.” No, you’re not.
You’re more than just an extrovert, and if you weren’t more than just an extrovert, your life would be completely messed up. You’re extroverted or introverted contextually along a spectrum. For example, in the context of hanging out on the beach with your best buddies, you might feel – and act – like a full-blown extrovert. But in the context of meeting your prospective in-laws for the first time, you might feel and act more like an introvert. In Science and Sanity, Alfred Korzybski1 proposed the idea of doing away with all labels because we tend to use a label to lock ourselves in a box in our society. But we are not in a box; all aspects of personality are contextual along a spectrum.

 

What about dualities? Isn’t it either day or night, dark or light? No, it’s not.
Though we tend to lock into these dualities as if they are absolute, just live in
Alaska for a while. Day is very different and night is very different at certain
times of year. Here in the islands, day and night is different. Whether you live in
Kailua Kona or in Hilo, day and night can be different. So day and night are not
absolute fixed points.

 

Another example would be masculine and feminine. A century ago, most cultures
had pretty strict definitions of what was “manly” or “womanly” and you were a
complete misfit if you exhibited feminine characteristics as a man or masculine
characteristics as a female. Today, most of us are more comfortable that, no
matter what our gender, all of us are both masculine and feminine. We all have a
soft side. We all have a tough side. Each of us runs along the feminine/masculine
spectrum, and we change where we are on that spectrum depending on context.
Women might find themselves being a little more “masculine” in work situations.
Men might show their “feminine” side when they are with small children.

 

So most things are not purely objective, black or white. And this applies to
perception is projection as well. Take the example of the floor beneath your feet:
You’re in a room with a floor. Based on the 126 bits of information you are picking up at this moment, you know there is a floor. Anyone walking into that room would collectively acknowledge that there is a physical solid floor in the room. That’s not in your head. You can’t change the reality of it – unless you bring in a bulldozer and some dynamite. But short of demolition, this floor is going to remain beneath you.

 

In a sense, you have less control over the experience of the floor than other
experiences. Yet you still have some control over the experience because there’s
a certain portion of your experience of that floor that is entirely in your head.
Do you like it? Do you like the color? Do you hate the color? Do you wish it were
cleaner? Did you even notice it? Do you even care? All of that is completely in your head, your projection.

 

When students or teachers polarize the “perception is projection” issue by
saying that either everything is in your head or it’s all external reality, they miss
the point. Of course, there’s a floor, whether you like it or not, whether it’s even
in your awareness, whether there is any emotional hook or not. The floor exists,
period. But there is a certain percentage of control on any part of the spectrum
that you always have, and it is your reaction to that experience. You always have
one-hundred-percent control over your reaction.

 

Over two decades ago, a research project reported in the Journal of the American
Medical Association stated that anger is bad for the heart. This may not seem
surprising to many of us. Yet I still run into people who say, “I am not really sure
if the mind affects the body that much. I want to be healthy, so why am I sick?”
Others say things like, “I don’t believe in those medical doctors. They don’t know
anything about the mind-body connection.” I’m sorry but they knew this before
most of us did. Within medicine, it’s beyond understood that there is a level of
your perception that affects your physical reality, all the way down to your physical wellbeing. I’ve also seen many studies that say that your beliefs, your thinking have to be on board with any treatment (whether physical, psychological, energetic, or spiritual) that you undertake. If you do not believe and are not fully invested and dedicated to a treatment, the chances of the treatment working have been proven to be far less. That’s perception is projection.

 

When it comes to something like an emotion, that’s an experience that is entirely
internal and within your control, though you may not always feel like you have
that control! Psychology and medicine have had trouble helping people control
their emotions because they’re attempting to fix emotional issues with methods
that don’t necessarily get to the source of the issues. These methods (i.e. various
psychotherapies or psychopharmaceuticals) do work for some people. But the
truth is that we know more about the dark side of the moon than we do our mind
and how it works. People seemingly have similar emotional problems and some
experts argue they understand these problems. But what helps one person
doesn’t necessarily help another. We have yet to find the magic pill that will fix all problems. That’s why it’s important to understand yourself and how the aspects of yourself function. Like a diet, not every mental and emotional approach to wellbeing is going to work for everyone. But by understanding yourself, you’ll know what tools to use.

 

Self Exploration
1. Spend a day loosening up your point of view. Throughout your day,
use this question frequently: How might I see this situation/person/
issue differently? (Another powerful question, especially if you feel
stuck about something or someone: What if I’m just totally wrong
about my perception of this!)

 

2. Look around at your current surroundings. Putting your focus on
one thing at a time, pause and pay attention to underlying thoughts
or feelings that might color the reality of that thing. For example:
“That’s the mirror my mother gave me. She was beautiful and it’s
beautiful.” Or “I don’t like that sweater. My ex gave it to me. It looks
cheap.”

 

P.S.
Click here to read Part 2: Cause and Effect.

 

Mahalo,
Dr. Matt

Comments

  1. CONGRATULATIONS on completing this Matt. SO nice to get a common sense approach to perception is projection – and such a clear explanation. Thank you.

  2. your examples are simple practical

  3. Cath Edwards says:

    Just love your examples Matt – it put a whole bunch of stuff in perspective for me and my family relationships and my wonderful clients. Such a shame that your NLP event in Sydney was cancelled. Do you have any planned for Hawaii?

    • Aloha Cath,

      Thanks for the support! Happy to hear you gained so much perspective. 🙂

      We don’t have any NLP Practitioner Trainings in Hawaii scheduled in the immediate future. Right now we have Seattle in April and Boston in May on our calendar. Feel free to subscribe to our mailing list at http://www.NLP.com for updates. Hope to see you soon!

  4. The link, at the begining of this post is broken! By the way, it is great!
    Thank you, Dr Matt, for sharing your knowledge!

  5. Dr.Matt Thank you for all you do. Love you. Hope to attend another one of your workshop soon.
    Surya

  6. Michele Madrigal says:

    Holy cow! I just followed the last example you gave in this post. I looked at a calendar I bought myself at the end of last year to organize myself and empower myself to take action. It’s been sitting on my desk, untouched for the past couple of weeks. I’m avoiding my power!!!! The things we do to ourselves sometimes boggles my mind. I love reading your articles and blogs. Thanks for bringing this into the world:)

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