Do You Believe What You Perceive?By Dr. Margaret Paul
March 14, 2011
If you want to change your feelings and your experience of life, then change your state of mind.
I remember many years ago seeing the movie "Rashomon" (starring Toshiro Mifune and directed my Akira Kurosawa) where three people saw a murder committed and each saw it completely differently. Of course, each believed that what they saw was the truth. It is hard for many people to understand that perception is a mirror of what is going on for them on the inner level, rather than what is actually going on.
This is very apparent in our relationships with each other. For example, if you believe that you are not good enough - that you are in some way flawed, inadequate, unworthy, unlovable - and someone is rejecting you, it is very likely that you will take the other person's behavior personally and believe that their rejecting behavior is about you.
But if you feel lovable, adequate, secure, and have high self-worth, you will likely believe that the other's rejecting behavior has nothing to do with you - that it is coming from their insecurity and low self-esteem. Your perception of the other's behavior is about your state of mind reflected outward.
If you believe that your worth is in your accomplishments, and someone at work is mean to you, you may conclude that, for example, you messed up a project. However, the truth may be that the mean person is having a hard time with his kids and is taking it out on you. If your worth is attached to your kindness rather than to your accomplishments, then you might conclude that the mean person is having a hard time and kindly ask him if he is feeling badly or needs help with something. Your beliefs determine your perception, which determines your actions.
Steven Covey, in his best-selling book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," tells the story of being on a subway train, quietly reading his paper. A man with a bunch of children got on the train, and the children started running around and making a lot of noise. Steven felt annoyed to have his quiet disturbed, and finally said to the man something like, "Sir, will you please control your children." The man distractedly replied something like, "Oh, I'm so sorry. You see, we just came from the hospital where their mother just died." (I no longer have the book so this is from memory).
Steven Covey calls this a paradigm shift, where in a moment your whole perception of a situation is changed by new information. Because he originally believed that the man was just allowing his children to run wild and disturb others, he was annoyed, but his feeling changed to compassion as his perception changed due to hearing the truth.
Just as his annoyance was coming from a lie he was telling himself, our feelings often come from the lies we tell ourselves. We then project those lies onto others, and others reflect them back to us.
How can I know that I am telling myself lies? How can I know when what I perceive is accurate or a reflection of my own false beliefs?
There is actually a very easy way for us to know this. Our feelings are our inner guidance system, letting us know whether we are on track or off track in our thinking, or when something external is safe or unsafe. When you feel inadequate, unworthy, insecure, angry, anxious, depressed, and so on, this is your inner Guidance letting you know that you are telling yourself lies about yourself. When you feel compassion, caring, and inner peace, this is your inner Guidance letting you know that you are in truth.
Our perception is a mirror of our state of mind. Our state of mind determines many of our feelings, as well as much of our experience. What we perceive and experience changes as we change our state of mind, and Inner Bonding® is a powerful process for doing this.
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Today, allow joy to be your guide. Think thoughts that create inner joy. Take actions that create joy. Spirit has given us the experience of joy to let us know when we are on track with our beliefs, thoughts, and actions. Joy is Spirit's way of communicating to us that we are thinking and behaving in true and loving ways.
By Dr. Margaret Paul