– “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” – Anais Nin –
The world is for you, as you see it. Virtually everything you do is from your perception of the world. This even includes those things you do, prompted by some external influence. What you do and how you decide to do it is all about how you perceive it. As humans, we can’t help it. So the task is to get the right perception on anything, from the word go.
Perception leads to behaviour, that is, your perceptions largely determine your choice of behavior. When someone does something, your reaction or response will be determined by your perception of what has happened. For example, in these days of communication through technological gadget and social media, when a person writes something (to you), you may choose to perceive anger, revenge, ill will, frustration or you may choose to perceive that this person seek to express themselves, seek to be understood, to be loved, to be listened to, or to be given another chance.
People perceive the world in different ways. Their perceptions determine how they relate to the world. Some perceive the world as full of good people with generally good intention. Some perceive the world as full of bad/evil people with generally bad intention. While yet others perceive the world as full of people who are good, but who could also be ill-intentioned.
People see others in different ways. Persons who see people as generally good tend to trust easily, think positively of other people and expect others to be straightforward and dependable. Those who perceive the world as full of bad/evil people tend to be very cautious, find it hard to trust anyone, take more time to make decisions and may sometimes not even trust themselves. While those who see people as good and also capable of bad tend to be more realistic. They look at each person and situation as it presents itself. They are also careful, but then give more room for others to prove themselves.
To a large extent, one’s quality of life, eventually boils down to one’s perception of self in relation to the world. The world here includes: people around you, friends, relatives, opportunities or lack of it, your background, upbringing, experiences, beliefs, faith, and how all these affect your principles, priorities and then choices.
Overtime, I have observed friends who tend to perceive themselves in a certain way and it seems that life just goes that way for them; some positively, others negatively. There are persons who do not settle for less and indeed they tend to achieve that which they hope for. The one who just takes things as they come without a conscious choice as to what he or she wants, also tends to just settle for whatever comes.
When something happens, for example, a young girl gets pregnant, it is common knowledge that in some families, that girl will be castigated, called names, ignored, rejected or even sent away from home. However, some single mothers who took their experience positively, struggled and moved on, or even eventually got married. Those who kept their shoulders up in hope thus may tell you that what kept them going during those difficult moments was an inner strength. This strength came from their perception of their situation, not as the end of the world, but the beginning of a new life, with a promising future. They strongly believed that they will not necessarily end badly, as some persons may have predicted.
Even when everything seems to have gone wrong, if you perceive yourself as a mere failure, so shall it be, as you wish. Not until we pick up ourselves from where we are, assume a more positive perception, and make the best of this life, life will often feel miserable with self-pity lurking in the corner.
Life, by itself, is mysterious enough and so many factors come into play regarding any thing that one does. Nonetheless, as individuals, we are not as powerless over our lives as we may think or imagine. We have the power to do and undo. Some persons use this power to their great advantage and make the most of their lives, while others do not even realize the power that lies within them.
Perception gives rise to attitude, which has a huge influence on one’s life. We’ve heard it said, “Attitude is everything!” With the wrong attitude built on the wrong perception, one may find themselves in situations not bargained for. This can apply to many areas of life. For example, lots of people are job-seekers, but then one really wonders how many of these people really want to have and keep a job.
You may apply for a job for which you feel very qualified in terms of credentials and work experience. However, it becomes a challenge when the person comes in and is seen as having an attitude that does not allow them settle in properly into the position. For instance, does it really make sense that you were a person of high responsibility in your former place of work, yet you cannot fit into your new position because you are not open to learning the new company’s culture and ways of doing things? Even if you have to change something, you can only change what you have studied and understood. The wrong attitude becomes a huge obstacle to many of life’s successes.
The great Charles Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Many things happen in life, some beyond our direct control. But that which is within our control can change that which is beyond our direct control if only we could pick up the “tools” within our reach and have a positive reaction towards all that happens to us.
Negative reactions to events affect our lives and further distort our perception of reality. If perceiving things negatively is the way a person functions, then such person will always be fighting battles that may not exist.
“If you can change your perception,
you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas.” – Edward de Bono
Haven’t you experienced thinking of something or someone in a certain way and after a while, you get some clarity? The persons involved, through their actions are able to prove your previous perceptions totally different from the reality of the situation. By so doing, you find yourself, readjusting your perception and even conclusions. What if you never get the opportunity to be proved otherwise, you will continue living and reacting based on this very wrong and imagined notion of that person or situation. Can you imagine how far that takes you? And even how far it affects your priorities and choices. Even your relationship with the person concerned is affected, based on a wrong notion not corrected.
Perception, human as it is, can be a matter of choice. What you do with your perception remains your personal responsibility. You may perceive something in a certain way, but you don’t have to act it out. That ability to monitor and control how we think about people or situations remains a choice. I could employ my mind positively or choose to engage it negatively. So, the choice is yours and mine, as each choice has its consequent behaviors, attitudes and resulting effects.
"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess." (Deuteronomy 30:15-15)
- Linda Ellah