Our thoughts, opinions, and perspectives are based on our experiences in life as well as what we’ve learned thus far. We apply meaning to a situation based on this. Yet there is more than one meaning that could be given to any situation.
For instance, say your significant other is super sweet and brings you coffee every morning. One day he doesn’t. You spend the day fretting over whether he is mad at you and why.
In reality he overslept and rushed out the door also leaving his phone behind.
This is why someone’s opinion of you has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with that person’s experiences and perceptions that have shaped their lens of life.
Which is also why “common sense” fails. Your experiences shape what you see as common sense. Your culture shapes this, your interactions with others, how you were raised, and on and on and on.
Perception is reality.
Let me give you an example.
For many, it is assumed that at age 18 you will graduate high school and will be going to college. The conversation even begins in school starting in 6th grade with heavy pressure applied as a freshman in high school.
Yet for others, this is not an option. It’s not even a thought. High school graduation may be a first in the family. College? Fantasy.
I share this with you for two reasons.
First understanding that each of us sees the world and each other differently based on our experiences and perceptions, helps us to interact with each other. It allows us to be more considerate and perhaps compassionate.
Your view is not mine. My view is not yours.
It’s an opportunity to meet someone where they’re at and have a deeper conversation. It’s also a great opportunity to learn new things!
Second, our perception of ourselves shapes our own reality.
If you perceive yourself as not being strong you’ll avoid doing tasks that require strength.
You limit your own abilities by this thought.
If you THINK you’re not good with numbers, not very good at math, or not good with finances, and repeatedly tell yourself this, you’re actions will follow through and you’ll struggle with math and finances.
Yet if you tell yourself that you are extremely intelligent and capable of managing finances and BELIEVE this you will. It may also inspire you to learn more about finances and enjoy it!
The truth is our reality, the current lens that we’re viewing life through, is based on our experiences yes, but also our thoughts. Now our experiences can influence our thoughts. But it is our CHOICE to decide how we will think. It is our CHOICE what meaning we give to an interaction.
The truth is that each and every one of us is limitless. The only limits ever put on us are the ones we’ve put on ourselves. With our thoughts.
So how do you change this?
Pay attention to what you are thinking.
There’s a couple ways to do this.
- Meditation. Sit in a quiet place, set a timer for 5 minutes, and close your eyes. Breath in for a count of 3. Breath out for a count of 3. Keep doing this as you notice the thoughts that flow through your brain. Note the thought then re-focus on your breathing. Note the next thought that comes through. And it will. There will be many. And that’s good. Continue to note your thoughts and breathing until the timer goes off.
- Immediately after, write down all the thoughts you noticed during meditation.
- Meditation not your thing? Grab a small notebook or app on your phone and write down your thoughts as they come to you throughout the day.
Do this every day. At the end of the day review all of the thoughts you noticed. Are they thoughts that lift you up and encourage you to grow, reach for the stars? Or were they doubts, fears, negative self-talk? Note this in your journal.
Now, is that how you speak to your friends? How about your kids? No?
Then it’s time to stop talking to yourself like this.
Now. Rewrite these thoughts into a positive. Instead of I can’t lift that, I am strong. Instead of I’m not good at balancing my checkbook, I am smart and savvy.
Now this next week, continue the meditation and/or journaling. Also include 5 minutes of affirmations. All of those thoughts that you just wrote into a positive, say them out loud. Feel them. Believe them. That’s an affirmation.
At the end of the second week, see if you notice anything different. Leave a comment on what you noticed and any improvements.
Your experiences and perceptions can also encourage others.