Perceiving and representing the world

There is an even more important and powerful factor in how we perceive and represent the world, and that is the condition and our pattern of use of our own physiology. Things like muscle tension, what we eat, how we breathe, our posture, our overall level of biochemical functioning, all have a huge impact on our state. Internal representation and physiology work together in a cybernetic loop. Anything that affects one will automatically affect the other. So changing states involves changing internal representation and changing physiology. If, when your lover / spouse / child is supposed to be home, your body is in a resourceful state, you will probably perceive that person as being stuck in traffic or on the way home. If, however, you are for various reasons in a physiological state of great muscular tension or extremely tired, or if you are experiencing pain or low blood sugar, you will tend to represent things to yourself in a way that may magnify your negative feelings. Think of it: When you’re feeling physically vibrant and totally alive, don’t you perceive the world differently than when you’re tired or sick? The condition of your physiology literally changes the way you represent and thus experience the world. When you perceive things as being difficult or upsetting, doesn’t your body follow suit and become tense? So these two factors, internal representations and physiology, are constantly interacting with each other to create the state we are in. and the state we are in determine the type of behavior we produce. Thus, to control and direct our behaviors, we must control and direct our states; and to control our states, we must control and consciously direct our internal representations and physiologies. Just imagine being able to be 100 percent in control of your state in any moment in time.

Before we can direct our experiences of life, we must first understand how we experience. As mammals, humans receive and represent information about their environment through specialized receptors and sense organs. There are five senses: gestation or taste, olfaction or smell, vision or sight, audition or hearing, and kinesthesis or feeling. We make most of the decisions that affect our behavior primarily using only three of these senses: the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic systems.

These specialized receptors transmit external stimuli to the brain. Through the process of generalization, distortion, and deletion, the brain then takes these electrical signals and filters them to an internal representation.

Thus, your internal representation, your experience of the event, isn’t precisely what happened but rather a personalized internal re-presentation. The conscious mind of an individual can’t all the signals being sent to it. You would probably go stark raving mad if you consciously had to make sense of thousands of stimuli ranging from the pulse of blood through your left finger to the vibration of your ear. So the brain filters and stores the information it needs, or expects to need later, and allows the conscious mind of the individual to ignore the rest.

This filtering process explains the huge range in human perception. Two people can see the same traffic accident but give utterly different accounts of it. One may have paid more attention to what he saw, another to what he heard. They saw it from different angles. They both have different physiologies to begin the perception process with in the first place. One may have twenty-twenty vision while another may have poor physical resources in general. Perhaps one had been in an accident himself and had a vivid representation already stored. Whatever the case, the two will have very different representations of the same event. And they’ll go on to store perceptions and internal representations as new filters trough which they will experience things in the future.