The Anatomy Of Perception

First, perception feels real. It is not. 10 people perceiving exactly the same event or thing will have a distinct way of looking at it and feeling about it, that is unique to them. Even if 2 of them are best friends.

Perception is the constellation of your thoughts and feelings working together, and it is the FEELINGS part that is the fuel for the perception.

Even your perception of the very same thing can vary throughout the day, or from one day to the next.

This could be due to how happy you are in the moment, maybe life is going super well for you that particular day or tranche of time, or you are very healthy in your body from months of excellent nutrition and exercise.

So the event, in and of itself, is merely the OBJECT of your perception in any given moment, PROJECTED ONTO the event. In some way, the event does not exist outside of you.

Broadly, the way we look at something can be categorised as being somewhere on the continuum of threat .. healthy challenge to overcome .. opportunity to gain something. 

For example, let’s say we pick 3 people of the 100,000+ who run the London Marathon one year.

One of them is obese, and has done no training for the event.

Another is a keen amateur runner whose best time is 3hr 01 and he’s there to beat the 3hr mark. 

The other is a professional long distance runner looking to add to his gold medal collection and financial gains.

Each at the start line, how are they perceiving the same event? Where on the continuum are they?


Now that we see that perception whilst feeling real, is inherently shiftable and malleable, what can we do with that, if let’s say we are dreading something or afraid of something?

The problem with a lot of therapists and coaches is that they are too “cognitive” meaning they will try and challenge your thinking about a particular thing.

This takes a long time, is painful, and emotions do not follow the same “rationale” as our thinking.

Furthermore, thinking happens so quickly and triggers the flight or fight neurochemistry that by the time you try and take over with logic it’s often too late and the emotional response is too strong for logic to combat.

I often describe negative perception as being like a thorn bush, with the thoughts being the thorns. 

To try and challenge your thinking is like removing the bush one thorn at a time: painstakingly arduous, and you’ll likely cut yourself in the process.

The way I do it is pull the entire bush out at its root, by removing the underlying emotion to the thinking. And then finding any root-cause memories that are giving rise to that particular unhelpful perception.

Once the emotion (and key “cornerstone” memories) are cleared, the thinking changes on its own and the body and mind feel calm and amazing and naturally insightful and solution-oriented. 


In what area of your life would you like to heal and optimise your perception?

Where would you like to move from threat to opportunity?

Please book a private session here:

Published by Dan Sainsbury Transformational Psychology

Dan Sainsbury is a world-leading transformational psychologist and healer.

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