I will continue to ponder on perception; as a once-boss, still-friend once said (often) “Robert, you may think you’re the greatest guy in the world but if 1000 people think you’re a jerk, then guess what – you’re a jerk!” Perception driving one’s own sense of self, your own reality. Imagine letting public opinion dictate how you behave, how you think, how you act? I never agreed with him on this point of course; to me, if they think I’m a jerk, then either they don’t know me or we have completely different morals and principles. Either way you can’t run your life, your values, based upon public opinion; life by vote!
Yet we so readily and easily allow all the filters of our perception of others dictate how we interact with them – in fact sometimes if we even interact with them. Call it what you will: judging a book by its cover, prejudicial discrimination, or dislike at first sight – it is all a distorted view of reality. I prefer to term these filters, as you no doubt know if you’ve read my other thoughts in the blog. Filters block 100% of the available light, the reality, from reaching the intended target; they allow in some, but not all. And they can alter that light – color it, change its tint and tone, and given the right filters, completely change its reality. Such with life as light. Any routine situation, any moment, any reality, can be altered into a thousand different variations with our perception of that moment. Our filters, whether due to insufficient knowledge of what our eyes are seeing, lack of understanding, bias, preconception, past experiences, or a myriad of other reasons, cause us to not see all the light and we miss out on the entire reality, our mind making up the best reality it can based upon what limited light we’ve let our brain receive. And think of the relationships lost, opportunities missed, and gains left unrealized due to our own filters not letting us see the reality of the moment.
Truth be told, our filters do this almost innately. I think it’s a self-defense mechanism designed by our brains to protect us from being hurt or humiliated or embarrassed. If there’s a chance we could be emotionally damaged by the moment, our filters attempt to protect us by altering the reality to make it less palatable to us and therefore we become more guarded and less open.
How to avoid that? Hah! I’d be a gazillionaire if I had the answer to that. Rethinking that though, probably not because at least some people’s perception of me and my thoughts would not allow them to see the true answer and would not learn it anyway!! But you can be aware of your filters; of their existence. You can be on the lookout for them surreptitiously stealing all your available light – all the reality of that moment. You can be on guard, cautious, considerate as in questioning what you’re feeling and why. Feeling an unexplained dislike of someone across the room? Seeing a scene or interaction that hurts, frustrates, or angers you? Feeling hostile of a co-worker because of their behavior in front of the boss or your peers? Be prepared to just stop and take a breath and work through the entire moment; think about and weigh all your feelings and emotions. Consider all possible realities, not just the one your filters have cast light upon. You may not avoid them all, but you just might dodge false realities due to your internal filters.
Of course, sadly, the opposite is true; sometimes what we perceive to warm, friendly, connections or interactions at the spiritual level can be falsely filtered as well. In these cases we see what we want to see, not to protect ourselves, but to open ourselves to what we want. And there are those in life who will use exactly this against you – allowing that lack of filters, loss of perception, to fool us into opening ourselves to them, only to then have them use that to take advantage, to use. A sheep in wolf’s clothing so to speak. And these moments leave the worst scars. But you can’t let one bad experience ruin the possible future good ones. Just as we have to remain aware and examine our thoughts and feelings when the hair is up on the back of our neck, we also have embrace a similar examination when we‘re frolicking in the bright light of false platitudes, praise, or attention.
Life – easy? Hah! Not so much. Life is hard, or more precisely, living is hard. It takes balance, consideration, and it requires that we know ourselves. As Sammy Davis Jr sang – “I Gotta’ Be Me.” But to be you, you have to know you. Only then can YOU decide if they’re right and you are a jerk, or not.