Relationships are at the heart of the human experience. The quality of our relationships are crucial to the quality of our lives. It is commonplace to perceive those around us as separate. They have their own bodies, their own thoughts, their own history, their own struggles, and their respective circumstances. That being said, what if how we experienced others had a lot more to do with us than we thought?
Try This On: As the perceiver, every perception I have of you is an extension of me. We can also word it like this: I experience you through the filter of me. You are made in my image. Let’s think about this logically. It is my mind, my history, my experiences, through which I shape and define you. The state and quality of my lens colors that which I interact with. If I’m wearing glasses with rose-colored lenses, everything I perceive has a reddish tint. Perception is projection.
Let’s say we’re sitting on the beach and we observe a mother playing with her child. Undoubtedly, we will agree on the what of the situation; There is an adult female and a child on the beach interacting. However, how we perceive the event, the interpretation we have, is entirely subjective. Perhaps I am feeling sad at the moment. I will then have a tendency to color my perception with sadness. Perhaps it reminds me of not having sufficient love in my life. Perhaps it brings up a depressing sense of nostalgia from my childhood. I see the mother and I judge her, as a reflection of my sense of unworthiness. On the other hand, let’s say my friend has been feeling rather inspired today. He is feeling happy and receptive. Upon looking at the playful child, it sparks a sense of innocence and empowerment within him. He is able to tap into his own youthfulness and comes up with a creative idea for his business as a result. In either case, the ‘objective’ event is the same, while our interpretations and emotional states are different, depending on what we subjectively brought to the table. It is our current mind-body state that is informing and interpreting our experience. This is a gross, obvious example. There are innumerable subtleties, both conscious and unconscious, that shape how we experience our environment.
Great freedom can be experienced when we realize that our perceptions of the world are a reflection of our current state. More and more, if I can acknowledge that I am the source of how I define people, places, and things, I live an empowered life. The alternative is playing a victim. The victim role begets isolation and depressive emotional states. ‘The world is happening to me and I am choice less in the matter.’ But, if I can become aware of the colored lenses I’m wearing, I can consciously shape my experience and choose what is desired.
So as you go about the world, I invite you to investigate your relationships. Self-inquiry is powerful. ‘How am I seeing this experience and how is THAT a current reflection of me?’ When we are triggered and aggravated by another, this is an opportunity for self-awareness and personal evolution.
Treat others as mirrors and learn from what you See!
All original material copyright © 2016 Matthew Spangler