PERCEPTION & MENTAL HEALTH
RONNY: Lissa, look how beautiful the rose is!
LISSA: Eh!, don’t get too close, thorns may hurt you.
I’m sure you can relate to this, several times we encounter such situations in our life when we perceive the same event differently. Sounds cool, isn’t it? Well yeah, it’s called perception. so what is it? Simply perception means the way we perceive the world.
Perception involves both the cognitive and affective parts, fist we process the information, then we add some emotional color to it. if we perceive an event positively, then obviously our feelings for that event will be more positive. Now why it differs? Perception is a rather complex thing. It is far more than just perceiving objectively. Perception can differ with age, gender, with culture also. Perception also depends on people’s past, people’s interpretation, people’s aspirations, People’s preferences. Our past experiences, our learning both shape our perception, again perception in someway limit our experiences.
Here I would like to mention Broaden and Build Theory by Barbara Fredrickson .
Creativity and productivity: broaden-and-build theory
Professor Barbara Fredrickson (2002) at the University of Michigan shared her idea that positive emotions lead to non-zero-sum games. She has developed the broadenand-build theory to explain how positive affective experiences not only signal personal well-being but also contribute to personal growth and development.
Many negative emotions like anxiety or anger narrow person’s momentary thought-action repertoires, so that they started to act in a particular self-protective way. Positive emotions, in contrast, broaden person’s momentary thought-action repertoires.
This broadening of momentary thought-action repertoires open opportunities for building enduring personal resources, which in turn offers the potential for personal growth and transformation by creating positive or adaptive spirals of emotion, cognition, and action.
For example, joy creates the urge to play in social and intellectual or artistic ways. Thus joy, through play, can strengthen social support networks and through creativity can lead to the production of art and science or creative problem-solving in day-to-day life.
Increased social support, artistic and scientific productions, and successful problem-solving experiences are all relatively enduring outcomes of joy and may all this contribute to personal transformation and development. This, in turn, may lead to more positive emotions.
Contentment, another positive emotion, that may create an urge to contemplate our life circumstances. This may lead to a new and more positive way of viewing ourselves and the world around us, and of carrying on our day-to-day lives.
So now you understand why negative perception affects our creativity badly. As Barbara has said, negative narrow people’s momentary thought-action repertoires so that they are ready to act in a particular self-protective way. Though perception has a survival value also, it helps us to avoid dangers.
Perception Vs Reality
We hardly see the world as it is. Mostly, we see the world through some set of layers. These layers are made up of emotions, past experiences, and beliefs that we’re carrying with us. Perception is how we see the world and Reality is how the world is. But what is reality? We all have different perceptions, so who is gonna decide what’s right and what’s wrong or misperception? Well, Reality is nothing but,
- The truth.
- The actual state of things.
- Reality is the opposite of all non-existent things.
I think it’s a bit confusing for you, so let’s say reality is our objective reality and perception is our perceived reality. Objective reality and Perceived reality are two separate things.
“Objective reality is often much different from perceived reality, however, and one person’s reality may be significantly different from another’s.” (Youssef-Morgan & Noon, 2017).
Perception is the way how a person understands something and different people may have different perceptions of the same thing. On the other hand, reality is the truth and the actual existence of something. Perception can be controlled by external factors, but reality cannot be controlled by anyone or anything. perception is directly related to an individual’s attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge whereas reality exists by itself.
Cognitive Distortions that can affect our Perception
David Burns: “I suspect you will find that a great many of your negative feelings are based on such thinking errors.”
- All-or-Nothing Thinking / Polarized Thinking / Black and White thinking- you see things from a black and white glass, in terms of extremes – something is either fantastic or awful, you believe you are either total perfect or a total failure.
- Mental Filter- mental filter distortion happens when you are focusing on a single negative piece of information and excludes all the positive ones. The mental filter can foster a pessimistic way of viewing everything around you by focusing only on the negative.
- Personalization- As the name implies this distortion involves taking everything personally and assigning blame to yourself without any logical reason to believe you are to blame.
- Should Statements- people with this distortion tend to make should statements, – “I should do “, “ they should do it”.
- Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization- this distortion involves exaggerating or minimizing the meaning, importance and likelihood of things.
- Fortune Telling- they always predict a bad thing will happen with them and they believe it and act on it.
- Mind Reading- When you started believing that you can accurately assume what another person thinks.
- Fallacy of Change- distortion involves expecting others to change, if we pressurise them or encourage them enough. This distortion is usually accompanied by a belief that our happiness and success depends on other people, that leading us to believe that forcing those around us to change is the only way to get the thing that we want.
Benefits of positive Perception
- Reduce stress.
- Improve self-confidence.
- Make us more approachable.
- Make us more resilient.
- Improve general health and wellbeing.
- Increase motivation.
- Improve our performance.
- Cogan .A., 2016, Vision Comes to Mind
- Akyurek .E.G., Jong .r., 2017, Distortions of temporal integration and perceived order caused by interplay between stimulus contrast and cognition