Want to Change? Shake Up Your Perceptions


Conceptual artist Leandro Erlich’s work is brilliant and tricky. Like an optical illusion, Erlich’s work creates perceptions that fool our eyes and our minds. Above in Batiment, Erlich forces us to fill in the details of something we don’t quite understand with things that we believe we already know.

That’s the funny thing about perceptions. We blink and assume, we fill in gaps to quickly make sense of life. Why is it so darn hard to change? Because our perceptions are our reality.

Your Perceptions are Your  Reality

In the 18th century, philosopher Immanual Kant proposed that reality is not an ordered universe waiting to be perceived by the human mind. Instead, Kant theorized that the human mind takes the chaos out there and orders, frames, and structures it into the reality that we perceive. In short, “perception is reality.”

As leadership guru Stephen R. Covey points out,“To change ourselves effectively, we first have to change our perceptions.” Let that sink in. To change ourselves, we have to change our perceptions first. This is BIG! This requires preparation.


5 Gentle Shake-Up-Your-Reality Tips

To get those change-juices flowing, here are my favorite quotes about perceptions, along with gentle tips to help you shake up your current reality in preparation for change:

1. Tony Clark, “But wandering through life, letting others create your perceptions, can make for a very unfulfilling life.” Before making any decision to change your perceptions, take a beat and check-in with how your perceptions were created in the first place. Are they really yours or someone else’s perceptions about how you ‘should’ look, think, act and be? Make sure you’re clear about the starting point in this change journey. If you don’t “own” the perception, you won’t own the change.

2. Stephen Colbert, “It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything.” At the risk of offending the mighty Colbert Nation, “perception is everything” is not original in the least. But Stephen is right about the facts. Get the facts first, from as many credible sources as you’re able, including sources you wouldn’t normally consult because they don’t “agree” with your current reality. Fact-finding prepares you for a reality shift.

3. Robert Anton Wilson, “We all see only that which we are trained to see.” How trained-ready are you to make the reality change you want? If you’re not trained at all, what do you need to do to get training, coaching, a peer support group, a mentor, formal education, or other informed support that will help you see, say and do things differently?

4. Laura Ingalls Wilder, “Persons appear to us according to the light we throw upon them from our own minds. To make and sustain the change you desire, who do you need in your corner? It’s time to look for unusual suspects, people who can support you in different ways than the same ol’ awesome peeps you have in your life now. And, its times to shift the light you throw on yourself too. Include one person in your life who is “different.” Do one thing you wouldn’t do in your present reality to start shaking things up.

5. David Sedaris, “Everyone looks retarded once you set your mind to it.” I find Sedaris so achingly funny and a perfect source for lightening this change-talk up. Your mindset about what is “real” and what isn’t is so crucial. When you find yourself reverting to the fixed mindset that created or held tightly to the reality you wish to change, re-read this quote again. Giggle, a lot. Then go back over tips 1-4 to shake yourself out of that mindset.

Please Be Gentle, Prepare First

If you intend to make some changes, begin changing your perceptions, your reality, now. Please, be gentle with yourself and prepare thoughtfully. As Albert Einstein said,

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

It will take all the preparation and persistence you can muster to shake up and shatter whatever illusions you may be holding onto. You. Can. Do. It.

UnknownImages of the brilliant Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich‘s work by © Henriette Desjonquères & Paul Fargues.

The Mori Art Museum in Tokyo is scheduled to exhibit Leandro Erlich: Seeing and Believing, which showcases Erlich. The Leandro Erlich page provides visitors with examples of of his work, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Erlich exhibition listings.


  1. Great words and extremely inspiring! Thanks for this one, just what I needed!

    • Jone Bosworth says:

      Warms my heart to hear these are the right words for the moment, Ben. I’m so very glad! Big hugs, Jone

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