Thursday, October 27, 2016

How our Experiences and Information Influences our Perception and Understanding of life.

Have you ever had that eureka moment? You know that moment when suddenly things that were not clear to you once before, becomes really clear and then you realize that you fully understood the situation? I bet it has happened to most people here. I bet we all can, in some way relate to that ‘ah ah! this is it, yeah?’ feeling. I particularly remember one of my most formidable ‘ah ah, so this is it’ moment. It happened a few months ago. I was thinking about the period of my life in the university when my life was filled with so much drama because of my friends. They were a lot of happy times, lessons learnt and growth but also a lot of quarrels, disappointment, depression and hurts (You know how girls can be yea?). So anyway, a few months back, I began to play everything back,
right from the first day I met this particular friend to the day I decided I didn’t want to be friends anymore. I played back as many scenes as I could remember, I analysed each situation, my reaction, what could have been done differently and what really couldn’t be avoided. I spent weeks thinking and analyzing my feelings during that three years and in that period of reflection - unbiased reflection, I got to know myself a lot better and I realized one very shocking fact: that as smart as I and everyone thought I was, I was really naive and gullible at that time. You see that fact - that light, changed a lot of things but most importantly, it gave me a different view of my world as I began to see a couple of things very differently.
When I understood, things that looked complex and really weird, suddenly began to make sense.
You see, we mystify and call complex what we do not know or understand.

This is what I want to explain, the theory of complexity as it relates to how much we know and understand.

I believe complexity is relative, depending on who really is trying to understand a certain thing. Saying something is complex is saying "I'm looking but I don't really get it".
For me, I believe that everything exists in a state as it is and our ability to grasp its existence decides how simple or complex it appears to be in our reality. Our reality is based on how we perceive the world and our perception, in my opinion, is shaped by two major things: Our experiences and our knowledge (Information).

Our experiences formulate our values, morals, ethics, etc. which all, in turn, influence our decisions and perceptions. Thus each individual will have his or her own unique perception regarding an issue, due to the unique way they have experienced it. Of cause, our experiences are largely defined by how and where we are brought up. Hence, though I’m 21, a Christian and Nigerian, my perception of the world is quite different from another 21-year-old who is Nigerian but a Muslim and we are both very different in how we relate and process things from a Nigerian (Muslim or Christian) who was brought up in the United states. This is because, the language, culture and belief system of our surrounding - family, friends and general society - forms the foundation of our individual moral bias and thus influences how we experience and process things. For example, typically an average Nigerian frowns at homosexuality (forgetting religious views) and most probably haven't accepted the idea of transgenderism much less decide whether to frown or smile at it, but an average American? Quite different I suppose. But oh well ...
Life’s significant experiences are filled with emotions and thoughts that play a big role in how our perceptions are formed, but it’s only half of the equation.

The second element in the formation of perceptions is our information. We are told to believe in God, we are told marriage is bad, girls are supposed to be proficient in domestic activities, without going to school you can't be successful in life etc. etc. We are informed on how to treat pastors, rich people, what to wear and what not to wear etc. Information surrounds us. Well, we do live in the information age. Now, regardless of whether it is good or bad, though, our information is what we use to process our experiences and form our perceptions. Sometimes we have bad experiences with good information. Sometimes we have good experiences with bad information. Other times, it’s entirely one or the other. But that’s not my point. Here is it. On a natural basis, it's hard to relate to or understand something we are unfamiliar with. It’s easy to castigate it, call it wrong and throw aside values, opinions and standards that we are not familiar with or do not understand. Nigerians read about the laws accepted in other countries and frown at it, saying its end time. Spiritual people judge the atheist and the nonspiritual. Weed is legal in one country and illegal in another. What you strongly believe and accept, might be something I hate and would reject. While I may not understand why you aren't buying my conviction but I’d still insist I’m right. We are all living in a box filled with stereotypes; some wrong, some right but would you ever know if you don’t question these beliefs and explore? When I realized that the Christians in other countries who carry dreads and draw tattoos and all that stuff that the average Christian Nigeria (what we call Holy Holy) won’t wear would still go to heaven, my mind changed. I realized that just because a pastor isn't dressed in suit doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the world. I realized that different territories call for different strategies. You can't go to ghetto dressed all classy with suits and the best shoes and except the guys there to listen to you. Nah! Until you go to their level, you won't pass your message, no matter how great or right it is.
We are all a product of our experiences and the information we have taken and just because someone else thinks or lives differently doesn’t make them any less right than you are.
I believe that when we begin to take in more information and explore/experience more things, our perception and reality would deepen and expand. And that which we mystify and call complex, or just wrong - all that we don’t get would begin to make sense and we could begin to live happier and healthier lives as we allow more different people into our lives.
Yes! It's important to guard your heart and mind and your beliefs, but think of how much in the world you are missing because you don’t know.
The fact is the different stereotypes and opinions you choose to acknowledge, along with the one's you yourself have formulated - whether it be from various experiences, etc., will all influence your perceptions regarding people, stances on issues, or even perceptions about life itself. These perceptions form your reality and as you process and relate your experiences to information, you decide what is complex and what you understand.

I hope you enjoyed the read. Do let me know your thoughts below by commenting and also, make me happy, download the images and share them on your Social media networks - you can always tag me @peaceitimi on Instagram & Twitter.


  1. A typical example of this is seen in our relationships with children. We expect children to act as children (I.e childishly although we know there are those that act more than their age).
    We know they haven't lived long enough to experience certain life experiences so we cut them some slack. But we also try to teach them these things in the hope that one day, they'd be old enough to see it the way we do now and they'd understand. Experiences shape understanding, understanding shapes attitude and actions.
    My point is we now know that people act the way they do because of their understanding of life that is shaped by their experiences. Like children we shouldn't castigate them for acting accordingly but rather continuously throw light on our vantage point and hope that one day they'd see it. Life is a cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning. What you believe today you may disbelieve tomorrow or it could be the other way round. It is life. Know your values and stick with them unless of course you see otherwise. Don't judge yourself or anyone else for having a change of heart. If there's anything that's constant, it's change.

    Lemme add this.
    We accept "childish" behavior from children because we know they have not lived long enough to experience certain life experience (although there are those that act older than their age lol). So we cut them some slack. We don't castigate them. We understand they dont know better but then we try to in what ever way show them our truths about life in the hope that they'd some day understand.
    In our relationship with people, if we are to learn, we must be come as that child who doesn't know better. And if we are to "deliberately" impart people we must see them as that child who doesn't know better.
    Truthfully though, when it comes to life, what do we really know?
    We are all children of our experience and it deals with us accordingly.

    Nice post. The dust that you have removed from this blog tho...

    Gabriel Tega Ogigirigi


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