I’ve wanted to write an article on perception for a long time, and for a while, until today, the words haven’t come.
Today I had a big personal breakthrough when I was able to see something I had long viewed in a certain way, differently. I feel differently and I know that my experience, has, and will change. The reason we need to understand the way our perception shapes our world is because if we want to experience something different, the change must come from within.
Some time ago a friend of mine, in mid-life, lost her job. She didn’t even see it coming. One day she walked into her workplace and was told, along with the rest of the workforce, that she no longer had a job. After a few weeks, she decided to set up a business on her own. After only 18 months, she gave up and went to work for a local business in a role which didn’t really reflect her expertise or indeed her valuable experience. A year into the job she came to me for some help.
Describing how she felt, she said she had “lost her mojo”. After some unravelling, we got back to the day she lost her job. On the day of the “bombshell”, she took herself off for a walk, numb and stunned, her thoughts went along the lines of “Why me?” “What has gone wrong?” “How am I going to manage?”
Knowing how her family relied on her salary she felt like a failure and even up to the day we discussed the situation, she wondered why this catastrophic change in her life had happened.
She had attempted to pick herself up, starting the new business and then latterly with the new job, but she had lost something valuable inside and her trust and faith had been severely shattered.
During the conversation, I suggested that some people after the initial shock may have thought “Yippee” I can now explore something else, I can use my unique talents I have to do something great with my life”. She looked at me as if I had gone mad, and I could see she thought I was probably out of touch with reality.
But that is the real problem. We think the reality we see and how we interpret it, must be right. But in any given situation, we can look again and interpret it in a different way.
I realised many years ago that the world I was seeing was a reflection of my perceptions. When I was a young single mother I felt unsupported and alone. I had lots of friends and family, but I always perceived them to have busy lives and asking them for help was a big deal for me, so I rarely did it.
Unwittingly, I was fulfilling my perception of: “I am pretty much on my own, and if I need anything, I had better do it myself, because others are too busy to help”. After many months of feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and alone; a back problem forced me to ask for help.
At first it was difficult and uncomfortable; I felt I was imposing my own problems on others. But after a while, something magic happened. I began to see that people around me, cared about me, and wanted to help.
When I asked people for the support they overdid the support they gave me. I saw that when people were helping me, they felt connected and were happier helping me than watching me struggle alone.
I finally realised with a great big light bulb moment, that my outworn perception had unwittingly kept others at a distance and not only was my perception wrong, but my need to be right kept my perception in place even when I desperately needed to see things in another way.
When my friend and I started talking about the choices we have and how we can see things in a different way, she realised losing the job was not a personal indictment on her. She eventually also saw she had been holding on to a faulty perception of the job loss and this faulty perception was affecting her life every day.
She decided to look at the situation differently and came to the conclusion it had nothing to do with her, it was simply a change in her life, albeit an unexpected one. I recently received an email from her. She told me that she was becoming quite an expert at switching her perceptions and most importantly, she had her mojo back!