"These 7 little words actually hold all the answers to the mystery of life itself within them."
I want to talk about perception. I think it's an underrated commodity. As in, folks don't give it the value it deserves. I mean really, think about this popular quote:
"What we PERCEIVE is what we BELIEVE."
"What we PERCEIVE is what we BELIEVE."
These 7 little words actually hold all the answers to the mystery of life itself within them. How you say? Well, because they are letting us in on the secret that our PERCEPTION of what is happening around us actually creates our reality! Let's break it down...
What is Reality?
Some might think this a silly question with an obvious answer. They might say something like, "Well that's obvious. Reality is what we can see, hear, feel and touch. It is the world around us and all that we experience within it." Well I beg to differ with that opinion. I believe 'reality' is a bit more complex than that, and yet in principal is really simple. I believe that reality is based on how one PERCEIVES the various stimuli they are exposed to.
Have you ever watched someone else face something especially challenging in their life with a steadfast determination that things will work out just fine and wondered to yourself, "how do they DO that? Why aren't they falling apart? I don't think I could handle that.....I'd surely crumble!"
Or perhaps you are the person who watches someone in hysterics over a traumatic event and says silently to yourself, "Oh darlin, if you would only relax and surrender to what is happening things would be a lot less stressful for you as you go through this. After all, things always have a way of working themselves out."
What do you suppose makes these types of people so different from one another? I used to ponder this question quite often...until I figured out the answer. PERCEPTION. Perception is simply how we view what is happening around us. And contrary to popular belief, we do actually have a CHOICE in all of this. We, in each and every moment of our lives, can choose what to believe and what not to believe. There is great power in this realization. Let's go a bit deeper...
"Your brain will believe anything you tell it"
Challenge Your Belief Systems!
How many of you have heard the expression: "Your brain will believe anything you tell it?" This is so true but not to be confused with believing anything someone else tells you! Give this one some thought...
Have you lived through an experience where you were feeling anxious or nervous to face something? Could be a first time date with someone you are attracted to, a job interview, getting called to the boss's office (the equivalent to getting called to the principal's office!) or any number of seemingly terrifying events. How did you face these things? Did you continually tell yourself that you had something to worry about? That you would somehow screw things up and lose the job, car, home, love interest or anything else you were going for?
We all hear the advice from our cheerful, upbeat friends and our spiritually enlightened Life Coaches to simply "Believe and you will achieve" or "Think positively and you will attract positive results". But we often seem to fall short of our mark no matter how many doomsday thoughts we chase away or positive mantras we chant. Why is this? I believe the answer to that lies deep within our belief systems or "operating system" as I like to call it.
No matter how many times we practice positive thinking, we may, in fact, have a deeply ingrained belief system that runs contrary to our efforts, merrily chugging along in the background of our subconscious minds without our even realizing it! And if we really want to see some changes in how we perceive the world around us, we must first tackle these old belief systems, many of which are not even OUR beliefs at all but things we were told as a child that we just adopted as a truth and carry with us throughout our lives.
"I accepted a different truth....one where children DO die before their parents..."
I came face to face with an example of this in a conversation with a new friend just the other day. Inevitably the subject of children came up and upon hearing my tale of the loss of both of mine, she was genuinely shocked when she said to me, "That is just horrible! You poor thing! It's just not right, we are supposed to go before our kids! This just shouldn't happen!"
In this case, the underlying, deeply ingrained belief system that we, as a society have taught ourselves to believe is that it is somehow UNNATURAL for our children to die before us. But I can stand here as living proof and tell you that no, that is not true because sometimes, our children do, indeed go before us. So why does it matter what I believe?
It matters because it is my belief that will shape my perception and my perception, in turn, will shape my reality. In this case, I chose not to feel like I was somehow wronged by the Universe in outliving my children. I accepted a different truth....one where children DO die before their parents and in doing so, was able to move through my initial "grief storm" with a lot more ease than those who find themselves distraught over how "unfair" their loss is. I was able to experience a reality where I could accept the death of my children and eventually, find deeper meaning and purpose for those experiences.
I understand how difficult this particular example can be for most people to accept. Truly I do, but I am asked time and again to tell, show and teach people how I survived the loss of my kids and to do anything other than present the truth as I PERCEIVE it would not sit well with me at all, nor would anyone ever gain anything from my experience if I were to sugar coat it. This blog is titled "Let's Talk About the Elephant in the Room. Frank Discussion About Difficult Things" after all.
In fact, I am often met with people who are suspicious in nature...quite convinced that I am not really as happy as I appear to be. Because their view of the world is so different from mine that they assume anyone who claims to find peace in the face of trauma must be lying. (A perfect example of this is a certain newspaper journalist who interviewed me a while back. You can read that interview HERE)
"I feel it was my decision to take on that belief that shaped my entire experience of the unavoidable period of deep grief that followed."
Change Your Perception...Change Your Life!
I've had lots of time to think about these things. I've wondered if I was simply born different. Like with some sort of gene that makes me predisposed to being more resilient than others. While this may prove to have some merit, my conclusions are that it really all starts in my mind. What I tell myself is what shapes what I believe and how I feel. All of this then shapes my reality. In the case of my son's suicide, which was a very traumatic event to be sure, I decided in the very first few hours that I would SURVIVE this. I feel it was my decision to take on that belief that shaped my entire experience of the unavoidable period of deep grief that followed.
(I invite you to read more about that time in my life in a previous blog post called, 'Victim or Survivor...You'r Choice?' ).
So the next time you find yourself feeling compelled to judge someone else for their thoughts, reactions, emotions, comments, actions and/or lack of action around any experience in life that does not match how YOU feel, think and react, I invite you to shift your own PERCEPTION for even just a moment and look at the situation from a different view point. When we understand that we all are simply creating our own realities base on how we perceive the world around us, we can begin to drop our judgement of others. Because, after all, the beliefs they have taken on within themselves outline the very truth of their own existence, making their truth no less REAL to them than yours is to you.
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