For the purposes of this article, I’m using the word “perception” as the way you “see” with your mind. Perception is more than just tapping into your sensory experiences of touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell. Perception includes a cognitive process where the mind takes in data and makes a mental picture that affects behavior. Our perceptions can provide light in a dark space, but they can also drain us emotionally. If you change your perception you will change how you see your situation. The situation may not change, but how you see the situation will certainly change.
Can You See Your Situation in a Different Way?
Perception is a powerful element of the human experience. It enables an individual to evaluate their current condition, and produce a mental opinion of an event. How someone perceives their world affects their daily interactions with others ̶ and helps to determine how stressful or disappointing events are. One person will see the loss of his job as a new opportunity to start a new career, while his friend in a similar situation may feel that he will never find employment again. We can ask whose perception is right and whose is wrong, but telling someone, “Your perception is wrong,” is a way of dismissing their feelings. Everyone has a right to perceive joy, sadness, safety, or danger. The question becomes whether you are willing to see your situation in a different way. Changing how you perceive things can help you to adjust to the challenges that life brings.
As a counselor, my goal is to assist the client to explore where their vision may be impaired or distorted. In distressful situations, our brain attempts to make sense out of a seemingly irrational event. Allowing your spirit to explore other options increases your resilience and produces change. By challenging your thought process, you are able to see possibilities that you may have been previously rejected.
Change Your Perception, Change Your Life
For example, a client stated, “I feel like my boss is out to get me.” He continued to give a list of actions that his manager had done that convinced him that his boss hated him. He truly believed his work place was not only stressful but also hostile. He felt stuck and unable to contemplate his options in life. How could he see past the systematic sabotage of his manger? Could it be that there were other factors involved that hindered his view of his manager? And, if the manager did indeed plan to fire him, how could he move from a place of fear to establishing a plan for his future? All of this depends on how one sees or perceives the situation.
Here are a few tips for regarding, understanding, and interpreting the challenges in your life. They can help you to expand your mental impression in a way that does not leave you hopeless, helpless and unable to recover.
- All or nothing thinking. Are you looking at your situation from an absolute, black and white point of view? Consider the degrees of gray that may exist in the situation. No one is perfect.
- Overgeneralization. Instead of thinking that your negative thoughts are true, consider examining the actual evidence and ask yourself how you can balance the cost and the benefits. One single event does not determine a never-ending pattern.
- Double standards. Does your perception involve one standard for you and one standard for others? Distortions often have one list of rules for others and a different set of rules for you.
- Speak the same language. Explore or clarify your terms. For example, what is your definition of failure or a loser? Can you really be a loser if you learn from the experience? The lessons we learn in life can close one door but open another door to great possibilities.
Christian Counseling Can Enable You to See Things Differently
There are plenty of ways to see the events in your life and previous events can impair a healthy perception. What you focus your attention on can also determine the level of your perception. If you sense that you may need to change the way you see things in your life, it may be helpful to speak to a trained Christian counselor. By enabling you to change your perception, a Christian counselor can also help you to change your life.
Images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net: “Tunnel of Green Trees on Sunlight,” courtesy of Phaitoon, Image ID 100232845; “Eyetest – Seeing Things In Focus,” Courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom, Image ID 10035077