Sunday, February 7, 2010

Perception and Filters

This morning I’m thinking about life and how I view it. It was actually the above picture I took that reminded me. It’s a distorted view of a beautiful blue sky through drops of water that collected on the moon roof of my truck. As I caught it with my camera, I knew I had to write about the thought that occurred. So, I sum up the thought with: “We see the world not as it really is but as it appears to be based on our filters of experience that form our perception of what we see.” Think about that for a moment. It is an amazing truth. Why do you think no two people experience the same view or situation the exact same way? It’s because their perceptions are so intricately unique that they can only see the basics of the view the same but not the whole of the thing they perceive.

So, as often I do, I extrapolate this thought across to human relations and interactions. People do things or don’t do things concerning us and we see that not as they may really be but as we presume, assume and perceive them to be. Because of our own internal filters, we may take insult or injury where none was intended and then we react to that perceived slight, insult or injury with vengeance, silence or healthy discussion. The latter is often not even a consideration at all because we assume that everyone perceives the world and situations as we do. That is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves and yet, we line our emotions up with that in a heartbeat every time we perceive any form of rejection or think we are being minimized by someone’s actions (or lack thereof). Oh goodness! We could save ourselves so much drama, pain and wasted energy if we’d only realize that every single person on the planet has different experiences that shape how they respond to the world. So, given the very valid fact that our perceptions are all uniquely different and our ability to correctly see what is really there beyond our perception is limited, there is no way any of us should ever judge another soul. Nor should we take a perceived slight, insult or injury as something to react to without validating with 100 percent certainty that what we perceive is fact and not fiction.

Have you heard or thought this about the actions of another? “I cannot believe he did that. I would never do such I thing. I would have been more considerate, kind, thoughtful, etc.” That statement is 100 percent validation that you are perceiving some ones’ actions through YOUR filters and may not be seeing reality. You are assuming that because someone doesn’t do something the way you would, the other person is insensitive, unkind and lacking compassion. Without validating with the other person, you would not know his perception of the scenario which is entirely likely to be completely different than how you perceived it.
The real answer when this problem presents itself is having a firm belief that there is nothing anyone could ever say or do that could ever take away from who you are. People who behave poorly are potentially just behaving poorly based on their own perceptions. You don’t have to react. If you really feel it’s necessary, make a statement not in judgment, which is passive but in feeling by owning what is happening (e.g., when you do this it seems like X, is that true?). Start a dialog with an intent to solve but not to win to restore your ego. Remember, nothing anyone does or says can ever take away from who you are. That means that no matter what someone says or does there is no need to take offense. People who hurt—hurt people. So, when someone is hurting someone else, chances are they are in pain and lashing out. Getting even only causes them more pain and any ego validation of participating in something like that will only create negative energy for you in the bigger scheme. Remember when mom or dad said, “Be the bigger person and just walk away?” That is great advice. You lose nothing by walking away if that is what you must do. You also lose nothing by not taking attempts to insult or hurt you personally. But, you gain immeasurably when you refuse to engage in emotional drama, when you can use compassion from the soul instead of pain from the ego, and when you can respond to someone proactively instead of defensively reacting.

You have to remember your filters. Your filters will always cause you to perceive things a certain way. That is just who you are. However, you also have a wealth of collective wisdom within your soul that will permit you to take a few seconds and consider words and actions before taking action in reaction to someone else. When you make good use of those few seconds and create a loving space for yourself to consider whether you are seeing things as they truly are instead of how you perceive them to be, you create more healing space around your own inner pain. This is important because it will allow you to heal your inner pain and slow down unhealthy reactions. I’ve put this one into practice. I read a great book once which will always be on my shelf. It’s by Byron Katie and it’s titled, “I Need Your Love. Is that True?” If you struggle with this topic as I do, as we all do, I strongly recommend reading this book. It’ll really go a long way to reinforce some positive ways to address this automatic assumption thing we all do and line emotions up with. The good news is that it can be healed and you can live differently despite your perceptions.

I hope you have a clear and real day! Many blessings and much healing!

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