Change the Way You Look at Things and the Things you Look at Change


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.

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2 Responses to Change the Way You Look at Things and the Things you Look at Change

  1. Bruce Taylor November 24, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    The phrase, “Life is empty and meaningless” is the construct of a well-known existential course. It, At first, leaves people bewildered, as it seems to negate everything they have learned, particularly in the realm of the religious or spiritual. Then , most come to understand the intent. The universe does not have any particular meaning — except for the meaning we “choose” to give it, knowingly or unknowingly. Most of the time we go through life making meaning of things because that is simply how we “do” life. And, for the most part of every day, we are on autopilot. And, mostly, that is a good thing, because imagine how wearing and impossible life would seem or be if we had to make sense of everything we do or see or otherwise sense every time it occurs. No memory. No mental patterning. However, we extend the same habitual patterning to all of our relationships in the world. I see Joe, and Joe simply is to me a set of my perceptions of Joe that began at the moment of the blink response and that I have continued to gather evidence to support ever since. I hear about Israel and Palestine at war, and I already have a convenient set of meanings that I give what I hear, and then every video lip on CNN and every new piece of information almost always can fit quite comfortably into the meaning I have given to Israel Palestine. Even more insidious is the meaning I have culturally inherited that traps me into a certain set of cultural meanings I give Joe and I give IsraelPalestine (Israstine?). On the one hand giving meaning to the world around us is what we do and must do to survive. On the other hand, we can trap ourselves by the automaticity of it, and the meaning we give things as “truth” runs our lives. Looking at a relationship that troubles us in life and saying to ourselves, what is the meaning I have given to this relationship, what benefit am I deriving from holding that meaning in place, what could be different for me, more peaceful, perhaps, or more satisfying, less stressful, if I could “see” this person and this relationship a different way. One thing is for certain, if I wait for Joe or Israstein to change to my pint of view, it’s likely to be a very long wait.

  2. facebook_hannah.eagle.56 November 25, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Yes, thank you Bruce. I appreciate your thoughtful reply.

    It occurs to me that there is an alternative to having to make “sense of everything we do or see” or “run on auto pilot.” If we can learn to REST in the present moment, without thought (which is required for making meaning), we experience a third way of being in the world. Sometimes we need to make sense of things, sometimes we need to run on auto-pilot, but my belief is that more often than we do, we can rest in the present.

    This is something else we learn to practice at a Live Conscious Retreat.

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