Perception is Reality…I call B.S.

This is a common statement in corporate settings, mostly in reference to a senior persons opinion of someone or something when THAT opinion is all that matters! What really should be said is…”they think XX so we need to move in YY direction or make ZZ decision to be in alignment (or agreement) with their thoughts!”…AND THERBY making their perception, actual reality! I know, trippy huh?

The funny, yet, not so funny thing is… the statement in the title is typically used when one persons opinion (usually a more authoritative or senior person) is more greatly valued than another’s. Not unlike just being “out ranked”, or subordinate.

Riddle me this…

  • If perception IS reality, why do we call it perception?
  • What if it is reality that is perception?

Check out the picture below..what do YOU perceive?

Courtesy of

(Picture courtesy of

Do you see the old couple, the two younger people or both?

Some people can only see one couple or the other, and some see neither, but as soon as you see what is normal for you, it is difficult to look at it again without seeing the same thing EVERY TIME!

So why is perception verses reality important as it pertains to the CreativelyAble?

Let’s define these terms according to

PERCEPTION – the act or faculty of perceiving or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

REALITY – the state or quality of being real.

In other words. Perception may or may not be real. It may be something sensed in an individuals mind, which is why ones perception it is often not agreed upon.

Let me share a quick story about how I was perceived recently..

Just the other day I was at a gas station filling my car with petro. A woman approached with a huge smile and that “tell tale” head tilt of pity, and she said, ”Awwwww, look at you, I’ll bet you feel real independent, that’s just awesome!”

Admittedly, my first thought was fraught with expletives of the four letter variety. But I looked at her, took a deep breath and calmly replied “I AM independent.”

Readers who know me, know that I am in fact “fiercely” independent!

Now, let’s unpack the story a bit..

I was not struggling with or even holding the pump awkwardly or looking confused. I had on a tank top and my arms are pretty nice since I work out quite a bit. I had just finished lunch with a friend so I was looking good, and my van is not old and was clean.

The one and ONLY reason for her perception was that I was sitting on my scooter pumping my own gas!

Why do people perceive visible disability as dependent for care, in need of assistance, or less than? These are stereotypes, assumptions, and typically based on their limited exposure to our community.

Her perception of me is very obviously not my reality, and I refuse to reinvent her perception in my mind to make it real.

Our reality is that we are whole, human beings that are complete as is! Some of us are completely independent and some of us are not, but in truth, that is irrelevant and shouldn’t make any difference in how we should be treated.

So what can we do about it?

Let me finish my story…when she heard my reply, I noticed a look of shock or confusion, I’m not sure but my perception was that she was surprised that I didn’t offer a gracious smile, and thank her for noticing (which many of us, myself included, have offered in the past). My hope is that she thought about it later.

The time has come that we hold people accountable, one uninformed, rude, and/or disrespectful comment at a time! Whether or not intentions are good. If we don’t we do a disservice to the next visibly disabled person to cross their path.

As a global community, let’s stop insensitive comments!! Let’s rise up and speak up! Let’s speak up in a way that offers the offender an opportunity for self reflection (if only for a moment). Let’s not shame them, smile to make them comfortable, or scream and call them “mother effers!”

If you respond in a way that you wish you could change, simply learn from the situation and respond better next time. Don’t beat yourself up!

Let’s not be overly sensitive, but very “matter of fact” and clear.

Let’s create an expectation that people respond to us in positive ways, and treat us like the valuable sons, daughters, mothers and fathers etc that we are!

Here are a few final suggestions:


1. Keep your responses brief.

2. Close the conversation and roll, walk, limp away. How you remove yourself is less relevant, just own the ending (like they do on a good TV drama). Getting into a discussion about it is not helpful to them, and can lead to more frustrations for you.

2. Stay calm and in control; yelling, screaming crying etc aren’t helpful.

3. Never give up your power by allowing the comments of others to ruin your day!

Love & light!

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Categories Disability

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