Constructing Reality: How Our Perceptions Shape Our Understanding of the World

Mónica De Salazar
3 min readMar 26, 2023


Have you ever considered that the way you perceive the world might be significantly influenced by your own thoughts, beliefs, and experiences? Our understanding of reality is not as objective as we might believe.

Instead, our perceptions are continuously filtered through our personal lenses, creating a unique perspective that may not be true for others. An insightful perspective to explore is the concept of insubstantiality and its impact on our understanding of reality, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the subjective nature of our experiences to foster empathy and open-mindedness.

The Illusion of Objectivity

We often assume that our perceptions are objective representations of reality. However, research in cognitive psychology suggests that our brains are constantly constructing and interpreting our experiences based on our previous knowledge, beliefs, and biases, leading to a distorted understanding of the world that may be unique to each individual.

For instance, consider a situation where you’re at a social gathering, and you’re focused on an engaging conversation with a friend. Meanwhile, another group of people is having a heated discussion nearby. Later, when someone asks you about that heated discussion, you might not be able to recall the details or even acknowledge that it took place. This is an example of “selective attention,” which demonstrates how our focus on specific aspects can cause us to miss other information, shaping our understanding of reality in a subjective manner.

Another example is when we encounter something unfamiliar or outside of our comfort zone. Our initial reaction might be to view it as wrong or strange simply because it doesn’t align with our beliefs or previous experiences. This bias can limit our ability to objectively perceive and understand the new experience, reinforcing our subjective understanding of the world.

The Power of Insubstantiality

To better grasp the subjective nature of our experiences, we must explore the concept of insubstantiality, which refers to the idea that all phenomena lack inherent, independent existence. This notion implies that our experiences, thoughts, and beliefs are not solid, unchanging entities, but rather fluid and interdependent constructs that can be influenced and altered by external factors.

By recognizing the insubstantial nature of our experiences, we can begin to see how our understanding of reality is shaped by our subjective perceptions and interpretations. This realization can help us break free from the illusion of objectivity and become more open to alternative viewpoints and perspectives.

Cultivating Empathy and Open-mindedness

Embracing the idea that our reality is constructed based on our subjective experiences can lead to greater empathy and open-mindedness towards others. When we understand that our interpretations of events may not be objective or universally true, we become more receptive to the experiences and perspectives of others, fostering a more inclusive and compassionate approach to interpersonal relationships.

As you go about your daily life, consider how your own beliefs and experiences shape your understanding of the world. Can you find moments to pause, reflect, and open yourself up to alternative perspectives? Doing so may not only enrich your own experience but also create a more empathetic and understanding world for us all.



Mónica De Salazar

Green MBA + #CreativeProblemSolving Consultant. Focused on Business Strategy for Digital, Social and Environmental transformation. Founder of @LifeStrategics.