Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Kindness Chronicles - The Perception of People

I propose a Perception Inspection.

Yesterday I took a Hatha-Gong yoga class at my school's new, very lovely yoga location. It's like a mini-resort in the middle of the desert and you forget you're in the city at all. I was in Warrior 2 pose, staring out the window at the beautiful trees and grass and the little man made lake with a fountain. As lovely as my view was I found myself becoming frustrated because a portion of the wall was blocking my view of the fountain. I could see all the little ripples resulting from it, but not the beautiful fountain itself.

Half way through class it hit me! I was stuck on seeing it only this one way, this one way that I decided was "the right way" when, had I just widened my view, I would have realized sooner that I could see its reflection in a glass window of a nearby building. Had I just opened my mind and my eyes a little more, had I become less stuck on seeing it one way, I would have saved myself a lot of wasted and unnecessary frustration. My perception was askew.

Too often we find fact in a thought, a moment in time, that we've deiced to stick with. Whether it be right or wrong, we hold onto it. We've never given anything else a chance to come to the light. We've super glued our mind to one thing, one way of seeing it. We do this with everything without even realizing it. When we close our minds, we close our hearts, our eyes, and our very capabilities of allowing other opportunities in. When we focus on "one way" we lose sight of all the other infinite ideas and paths that exist. The worst part is we do this with people as well, most of the time without even realizing it. Have you ever People Watched? I mean yes, it's fascinating, but its just our view of them. Just our  individual ideas forming a thought of who we think they are. In the People Watching game it's simple, nothing to it, but we do this every day with everyone we know and that, much like the fountain, has a  rippling effect on our lives. We just don't realize it.

I used to have a co-worker who was very straight laced and business like all the time. He was different than anyone I had ever worked with, ever. I was never sure if he was serious or joking or what. One day he seemed off, different, and I realized I was judging him on what I thought the problem was that he was facing. I was seeing him through my eyes only and needed to shift it or admit that he and I were never going to work well together. I sat at my desk a while and just thought. I thought about who he was, what he believed in and worked towards every day, what mattered in his work life. All of a sudden this little inner light bulb went off. I finally understood him for him. I finally got what made him tick, really made him tick, rather than what I had assumed all this time. I changed the way I talked to him. I changed the way I responded to his behaviors and his moods because I finally understood them. It was no longer about me or them or this or that. Our conversations, our debates, everything changed. He was more open to my life coaching ways, not because I asked him to or even discussed it with him in length ever, but because I think somewhere along the way by altering my view of him he was able to alter his of me, maybe without intentionally trying. As corny as this sounds, it was like the universe of our little work world had balanced itself out. And maybe, just maybe, because I took off my blinders it allowed me to let in the light of everything else. We have a very high mutual respect for each other to this day.

Now that I know how to alter my own perception of things I try, TRY, to remember to do this often, but being a human and all, I still fail sometimes. It's not until you actively try that you realize just how wrong you are about so many things, big and small. Maybe not wrong, but maybe how closed off you are, how little you allow yourself to see everything as it really is. Or, for the sake of healthy relationships, you underestimate how people really are. Why do we say that there are two sides to every story and why, when that story gets retold, is there actually always two different ways it happened, based on the story teller? Why do we think the grass is always greener on the other side? Perception.

Our perception is based on our own life experiences. What we have gone through up to this very moment has made us view the world a certain way, our way. We see in shades of us, not in shades of the actual colors being presented. We see what we know, not what is. We determine everything on what makes us tick. So how do we work towards altering our own perceptions to allow us to see the world as it truly is? We inspect - ourselves, other people, our surroundings. We step outside of our ideas and do our best to see everything as a whole, as it really is, or as it is to the people involved. We can then step back in to our own mindset and make a sound and well rounded judgement. My coworkers would be so proud at this little work line I'm about to use, but what we simply do is inspect what we expect of everything.

The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.  ~Henry Miller


We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.  ~Ana├»s Nin

Perception: The recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly on memory.
The process of registering sensory stimuli as meaningful experience...perception is more subject to the influence of learning. Perceptions may be influenced by expectations, needs, unconscious ideas, values, and conflicts.

No comments: