Reality is not only fact-driven, it’s perception-driven

It is a fact that flying airplanes is many times safer than riding on a train or a bus. And yet the post-9/11 security measures at airports are many times higher than on trains or a bus. Last time I took a train Cross-Continent, there was no security at all. Airports security measures are a nuisance to Millions of people every day. Every time I fly from Europe to the U.S. I am asked for my Passport at least 8 times on the trip. And even though I have an American Passport, I am quizzed, questioned and my snack is split open to see if there are any bombs in it.  Its a fact that there are thousands of ways a terrorist could bring down a building and preventing him to fly will not stop him. And its also interesting to note that security measures for airport staff – from the stewardess to the luggage handler – appear to be surprisingly lax in comparison. Did the airplane-cleaners go through all these numerous security checks before they entered the plane? Somehow I doubt it. I’d wager there are numerous people who could easily plant a bomb on a plane if they really wanted to.

The point is that the reality of super-tight, paranoid and costly airport security is not based on facts, it is based on the perception of facts. Authorities perceive and believe that there is a threat and that these measures will prevent that threat and passengers accept being strip searched because they perceive that its necessary. But the facts are that a lot of time, money and emotional energy are being wasted without all of these measures actually “preventing” terrorism. Thus, to create reality for millions of people, no facts are required.

I am not saying that there should be no security at all and that everybody should just walk into the plane right off the street (although that’s the way it will be on an enlightened planet). Its the paranoid exaggeration of security – the hassling of Billions of innocent people out of fear of a few, that is somewhat problematic. At many flights to the U.S. I go through two baggage checks even though one would have been enough. What exactly are they hoping to find that was not found at the first baggage check? The amount of money this is costing on a daily basis is enormous. This loss is created by perception, not facts. The loss of the money is a fact, but it is generated by delusion. If the security and police forces were trained in intuition and face-reading they could smell and spot a suspicious person from miles away, without having to empty grannies suitcase.

Image: You buy a Burger for what you perceive it is, not for what it really is. 

perception vs reality

Reality being created by beliefs rather than facts happens all the time. For a private coaching I recently visited a town where it rarely snows. A few snow flakes were falling that day and my host showed me how people were stocking up on food as if the end of the world had arrived. They also all started driving really carefully. And all that just because of a couple of flakes of snow that melted once they hit the ground! Stocking up on food and driving incredibly slowly was not necessary. These actions were not driven by facts, they were driven by perception and interpretation of the facts. Because the townspeople were not used to snow, they envisioned something different than me. Where I live, snow falls frequently and thickly and we still drive around in it even if its piling up to body-height at the side of the road.

This applies to positive things too, of course. Peoples perception that it is Christmas time and that this time is all about giving and coziness, creates precisely that reality. So when someone comes along and says “but fact is, the whole nativity scene of Jesus took place in January” we ignore that person because his facts are a disturbance to our positive feeling.

So what can you take away from this that is useful for your life? Well, in short: You can create positive emotions and real experiences by positively distorting your perception, and you can de-create negative realities by strictly sticking to the facts. So when a coachee tells me a negative story, I often say “stick only to the facts of what is really there, of what is really happening here and now please”. If one sticks only to the facts of the here and now it is difficult to maintain negativity because negativity is often based on perception and past or future events, not on here-now facts. And when a coachee tells me a positive story, I often say “yes, go on, tell me more please” because I know that even if the story is not fully accurate or factual it will create a positive factual reality.

Next two Images: In these examples, distorting your perception and ignoring the facts, will generate real positive outcomes.

perception vs facts




One coachee recently told me that he thinks a certain woman likes him. I could see that clearly she is not interested in him. But instead of telling him the facts immediately, I went along with the story for a little because it brightened his whole mood and outlook, it made him optimistic about the day. I could have said “You are kidding yourself”. But who am I to burst his bubble? Bubble-bursting would only become necessary when his delusion starts producing negative results/facts. And then it turned out that he was so convinced that she liked him, that the woman started changing her views of him. And now they have started going out together! The lesson learned here is that sometimes its better to let someone believe something if their belief is strong and produces positive results. Cynics and Skeptics are only needed for negative realities.

Reality is more perception-driven than fact-driven, driven by beliefs and emotions, not by whats really there. There are so many applications and usages of this knowledge I could write several books about it. From your choice of partner, to what you purchase at a store, to why you choose one life path over the other…none of this is primarily fact-driven but emotion-belief-perception driven. Thats why I teach changing emotions and beliefs. Because when those are changed, your perception changes. And when your perception changes, your factual reality changes. What you believe will come true if your belief is not too far away from your factual experience.