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Personal experience is the perception of events filtered through a particular human being’s thoughts, senses and philosophy via direct contact. Psychology and postmodernism have different explanations for the relevance of stimuli in shaping it. The sum of actual experience and the mind-set someone is in when he or she it produces opinions and interpretations, and they influence advice given to someone in a similar situation.
Psychologists are divided as to whether perception occurs from the stimulus itself or from inferences made from knowledge the person already has. The beliefs of postmodernism seem to support the latter, stating that everyone shapes his or her own reality. Thus, each person’s thoughts and perceptions are the truth for him or her, and personal experience cannot be made universal. Still others believe that certain aspects of a stimulus will be interpreted by the history and cultural background of the subject, marrying the stimulus itself with outside factors that influence internal philosophy.
In the case of the person’s personal experience, new situations will be filtered through the attitudes already formed. A familiar scenario might be romantic disappointment. Someone who went through a particularly bad breakup might have formed an idea that all persons interested in him or her are untrustworthy. The person might even ascribe traits or agendas to the current paramour that really applied in the prior encounter. This tendency can create problems not only in romance but in work or other circumstances.
Individuals will often have vastly different personal experience with the same thing, such as performing a figure skating program. An Olympic-level skater will have sensory awareness of the intense pressure of competing at that level, a larger ice surface and the extensive training that brought the skater to that moment. A skater who has performed recreationally in a local setting might understand the technical aspects of jumps and spins and even the same stage fright, but in a different context. The stakes are not as high.
Someone giving advice based on personal experience might try to find the similarities and tailor the advice to those, but always from his or her own perception. The Olympic skater might help novices prepare for an upcoming competition by offering technical help from a more assertive viewpoint, perhaps even by officially coaching. By contrast, a recreational skater might urge the novices to practice but also to enjoy themselves. The difference between building a career and doing an activity for fun can result in conflicting guidance. Sharing the personal experience will, however, help others gain knowledge of aspects they might not have considered, both negative and positive.