In Psychology Today, Michael Michalko writes about our perceptions and how they color our experience of the world around us. “People tend to think of perception as a passive process. We see, hear, smell, taste or feel stimuli that impinge upon our senses. We think that if we are at all objective, we record what is actually there. Yet perception is demonstrably an active rather than a passive process; it constructs rather than records ‘reality’.”
We each construct how we choose to see the world.
And we can choose to change the way we see the world.
Many of us already know this intellectually, but do we really take the idea to heart? Most of the time we are making up meaning in our heads and believing that this is reality. This is the basis of most of the tension and fighting in our relationships. Fighting to be right because . . . we think we know what is right. Right?
But thinking that our view is the right view is too often how we justify being critical of each other and making each other wrong. And, sadly, this kind of self-justification has continually been the underlying rationalization for war.
John Weir, our mentor, understood this when he created a way of using language that he called “percept.” It comes from the word perception. When using language in this way we remind ourselves that we are picking up information from our senses and we are giving meaning to what we perceive . . . all the time . . . and that this meaning we are creating is just our own unique version of the world “out there”.
As teachers of John Weir’s philosophy, we have changed the name from “percept” to Perception Language, but the heart of the work remains the same as it has been for over fifty years.
Imagine how different the world might look if you were conscious – all the time – that what you are thinking and saying is only your version of anything. You then become curious about how others perceive the world rather than arguing to be right or making yourself wrong because they have a different point of view.
Michalko shares an interesting story about Picasso. Picasso was asked, why he did not paint people the way they look. “Well how do they look?” asked Picasso. The man took a photograph of his wife from his wallet and handed it over. Picasso looked at the picture and then handing it back, said “She is awfully small isn’t she. And flat too.” We all see things in our own unique ways.
To quote the Michael Franti song: “Nobody Right Nobody Wrong”
In a Live Conscious retreat, we begin to step out of our habitual assuredness that the world is a certain way. We begin to create some space and flexibility in our thinking and feeling, which opens us up to stop judging others and letting go of being overly concerned about what others are thinking of us. We begin to be much more free to be ourselves, to like ourselves more, and accept our differences and the differences of others.
When we do this there is little cause for disharmony in our relationships. We experience how changing the way we look at things makes the things we look at change.