“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” Henry David Thoreau


What do you see when you see a child running, a couple laughing, a dog chasing a ball, the leaves falling from the trees, the waves greeting the sand….? With as many different perceptions as there are people in this world, you have the choice of how you perceive every experience lifetime after lifetime. And only you can make that choice of seeing things from a well-worn path of perception or seeing them objectively.


Human beings are story tellers by nature. It is how we learn, remember, relate and perceive. We tell ourselves and others, stories about our world and our experience of it. Whether it is safe or filled with harm, whether it is for us or against us, whether it is intriguing or challenging, whether it is filled with love or hatred, whether it is non-judgemental or judgmental…. It is these base beliefs that form our stories and help form the basis of our perception which we often attach to others experiences as well as our own. We can choose to perceive our experiences from our own biased view, or we can choose to perceive our experiences objectively. For example; If you saw the world as safe, you may perceive the child running as playing and having fun. If you saw the world as filled with harm you may automatically perceive the child as being chased. If you saw the experience objectively you may see that the child is running. No loaded meaning being attached to it, just that the child is running. When looking at an experience objectively, we can then enquire with the person who was experiencing it, to determine what they experienced i.e., the child.


I invite you to have a play with perception and objective reality.


  • When you are ready, take some time to review an experience curiously. It could be something that you have experienced or someone else.
  • You may like to imagine that you are watching the experience unfold as if it was part of a movie.
  • You may like to imagine that the person who is experiencing the experience is separate from you, the observer, and that they are sitting opposite you in a chair and you are observing them.
  • You may like to imagine you are putting on a pair of magical x-ray glasses, and review the experience with these glasses on. These glasses aren’t like any other x-ray glasses. They allow you to see through all the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, judgements, stories, attachments, resistance, and see just what is happening in its objective state – as if you were an outsider looking in.
  • Sense what is happening objectively – bypassing all the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, judgments, stories, attachments and resistance you have about the experience and see what actually happens in reality e.g., a young girl is running, her voice is raised, she is saying ‘Stop’ in a raised voice.


Once you have viewed the objective reality, if you were observing your own experience you can then take some time to be curious about the layers of perception that clouded this objective view, if you so desire. Alternatively ask the person who was in the experience, though often just viewing the objective reality is enough. In the example above, after talking with the young girl, she was wanting to catch up to her older siblings and didn’t want to be left behind.


We can view objectively whenever we like by taking a step back and observing our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, emotions, etc in relation to our experience which can often allow us to choose a path of action for response – do we go with our well-worn path of perception or do we go with the objective reality and a sense of curiosity. There is no right or wrong answer here, and depending on our mood, thoughts, etc.. that day we may choose the old well-worn path of perception…. for a little bit anyway. This is ok. It is having a choice that matters. When we are aware of the objective reality, and of our perception which we place on this reality, we can then choose which to engage with and base our response on. So yes, we can choose, when we are aware.


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As featured in Issue 13 of The Inspired Guide: https://issuu.com/studiosnz/docs/the_inspired_guide_13