Perception is the window through which we see the world, interpreting people’s actions, tone, words and body language. It is the filter we use to decide if we are safe, if we are liked, or if we will succeed. It has the power to discourage us or lift us up to new heights. It has the power to fuel our heart’s desires or leave us feeling hopeless and alone.
How can something with such a huge impact vary so significantly in outcome? Because our perception is invisible to us, like water is to a fish, and we often mistake the interpretations of our perception as true.
Here, try this on with me for a moment. You are walking down the street and you see an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while. You say hi and wave. They look at you and keep walking without showing any emotion on their face. How do you interpret their behaviour? The answer might be obvious to you, but when you gather a diverse group, the interpretations are just as diverse:
- “I would assume they didn’t see me”
- “I would start racking my brain as to what I might have done to offend them”
- “I would assume they were having a bad day”
- “I would think that they are such a jerk”
Each of these interpretations and the emotions that follow, say something about our perception and give us a clue to go deeper into understanding our iceberg.
If we want to understand how our perception is impacting us, we need to be less focused on whether our assumptions are right or wrong, and get curious about the filter that is influencing our assumptions. The truth is, sometimes we will be right and sometimes we will be wrong. This, in and of itself, won’t give us more insight into how we see the world. How we see the world can be found in the thinking process that led to our conclusion.
Going back to the example, the person that assumed they were to blame for the confusing reaction from their friend, probably has a pattern of taking on responsibility whenever something doesn’t turn out the way they had anticipated. This person is more likely to feel burdened when others aren’t happy or feel guilty when something goes wrong, whether it was their fault or not.
The person in the example that assumed the other person was a jerk, may have a history of blaming others when things go wrong. In this case, they may not see their role in challenging situations and relationships, rendering them powerless to stop patterns that they are unknowingly a part of in their lives.
Perception becomes a powerful tool that either unravels our goals or fuels our vision. It is also the key to our experience along the way.
Below is link to Byron Katie’s work. She has an impactful approach to challenging our thoughts, and in doing so, changing lives. Check it out here.