There are two types of people in this world: those who view the glass as half-full, and those who see the glass as half-empty. This phenomenon is called perception, and our perceptions profoundly impact how we experience life.
There were two brothers in a small village in the Eastern Cape. The twin brothers grew up knowing nothing else but poverty. Their father was an alcoholic and their mother a domestic worker. They grew up with very little.
On their way home one day, their parents were involved in a bus accident and died instantly. The brothers’ condition became even worse. At age 17 they separated. Years and years later a family member decided to find them for a family reunion.
One of the brothers was a wealthy engineer owning a construction company. He had a wife and three beautiful kids. The other was an alcoholic with no sense of direction for his life.
The family member asked the engineer, “How did your life turn out like this?”
“What did you expect with a childhood like mine?” he answered.
She moved on to the other brother with the same question.
“What did you expect with a childhood like mine?” was his answer.
From this story, we can conclude that men are not disturbed by the things that happened but by their perception of the things that happened.
Perception means gathering or receiving. It is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information or environment. Perception molds, shapes, and influences our experience of our personal reality. Perception is merely a lens or mindset from which we view people, events, and things.
In other words, we believe what we perceive to be accurate, and we create our own realities based on those perceptions.
You must have heard people say your perception is your reality. This is because our perception is based on our mind-constructed model of the world, such that life reflects our held beliefs and opinions. Your perceptions influence all areas of life. The totality of your perceptions— regarding yourself, your life, life in general, others, and so on—creates and impacts your personal reality and ultimately your experience of life. Specifically, your perceptions affect the quality of your experience of life. So, if you perceive things in a positive light, you’ll experience a happier existence, and if your perception of life is negative, it means that for the most part of your life, you will be dealing with lots of negativity.
Past experiences also have the power to influence our perceptions. Suppose you are raised in a poor family with little material possessions to account for. Your constant concern for money leads you to adopt a scarcity mentality. Over time, you develop negative beliefs related to money, since your past was replete with evidence of money being in short supply, but if you were born and raised in a wealthy home, raised in a wealthy family living in an affluent neighborhood: equipped with maids, butlers and a chauffeur, Prosperity, abundance and wealth would be common to your experience given your relationship to wealth. You expect money to be readily available since reality dictates its abundant supply.
How we perceive the world around us directly influences everything we do. Whether we frame a challenge as positive or negative can directly manipulate and influence the outcome of that challenge. If we see ourselves as someone who has little willpower, we’ll likely have a self-fulfilling prophecy and suffer in the willpower department. And it goes beyond how we see ourselves, but also how we perceive objects, other people, and how they perceive us.
How do you perceive rejection, failure, and setbacks?
To some rejection is bad luck, setbacks are spiritual or an omen that you are on the wrong path, and then to some, failure is the end of that goal, dream, and ambition whilst to others, it means another opportunity to try again and again until they achieve success. Ultimately, how we perceive the world and life’s events is what we will get out of it at the end of the day.
Everything can change when we look at things differently. When you change your perception, you will realize that maybe that task wasn’t as difficult as you thought or that boss doesn’t hate you as you assumed or that failure wasn’t to make you give up.
The first step to shifting our negative perception is to identify past experiences that have shaped a negative perception you have and discard those beliefs. It could be your belief that all men are misogynists because you grew up with an abusive father who beat up his wife. Identifying these experiences will free you of its influence. Once you have an experience in mind, identify the limiting beliefs that experience shaped for you and change those beliefs to more positive ones. Constructive perceptions, the tendency to see the good in people, things, or situations, or to view compassionately, spring from positive beliefs. For instance, if you believe the world is an unsafe place, and that love is an illusion, you will likely view people with suspicion, irrespective of their good intention. So, you need to challenge and discard your irrational thoughts and beliefs, for you to change your perceptions for the better.
Secondly, always choose the positive sides of situations. If you look on the bright side, you try to be cheerful about a bad situation by thinking of some advantages that could result from it or thinking that it is not as bad as it could have been. With this mindset, you will not easily perceive failure as the end of the world, rather as an opportunity to do better. Choosing to see the negatives of situations will only help you build negative perceptions from that experience that will linger.
Also, don’t be too quick to form a belief. Sometimes, we jump the gun thinking our mere perception of things is the actual truth. We need to realize that all we have is our perception and not the absolute truth so asking questions like is this really true? Can I look at this another way? Or is there something here that I’m perhaps not seeing? Are all great ways to shift perspectives.