Perception’s a nasty lady…but I’m a nastier one

I don’t know if you like coffee or tea or whiskey or kale juice but whatever’s your drink of choice be sure to grab a mug/glass/cup (heck even a bucket) before you start reading. It’s going to be long. But hey, before we start, thanks for checking this out.

So. Here’s the deal: I am one of the many people on this earth who discovered later in life what I want to do. Or rather, I knew all along but I wasn’t allowing myself to see it because it was too ‘air-head-y’ and not serious enough. While I’m doing well in a career rather close to what my heart desires, I still feel that something’s missing. So I decided not long ago to go for it with everything I’ve got. I might fail. I might fall flat on my face. But I might also succeed. Beyond my wildest dreams. I don’t know and I can never know. The only thing I can do is follow that voice within that keeps nudging and poking me so that I don’t fall ‘asleep again’. Because you see, I feel as if I’ve been sleeping for the past 20 years of my life. For almost 20 years, I’ve been going through the motions, mimicking socially-acceptable behaviors so that I am not ostracized but denying who I really am and as a result losing a small part of my soul every day. For 20 years I’ve survived but I’ve forgotten how to live.

Thus this blog. I just woke up from a loooong sleep and I’m ready to grab life by the horns and see where it takes me. My dream is as wild as they get. But something tells me that if something is ‘tangible’ enough for our mind and hearts to grasp then surely there is a possibility somewhere out there that it’s also tangible enough to be realized. I’ve read enough ‘new age/law-of-attraction-make-your-own-life’ books to know that what I’ve come to accept as “That’s life” is all wrong. It’s all based on other people’s opinions and interests.

Please know that I’m not pretending to be anything more or less than I’m not. I’m old enough to know things and young enough to not know anything. I’m just another human being on a journey to “there”. 

So here’s the first thing that I realized…

LIVING THE LIFE YOU DESIRE IS FIRST AND FOREMOST A JOURNEY AGAINST PERCEPTION.

Let me explain :

If you think about it, perception shapes our view of the world. It determines how we conduct ourselves, how we behave, how we interpret outside events (and of course how we let them affect us).

Take this scenario for example :

You have two little boys of the exact same age, appearance (weight, height, clothing preferences, eyes, hair etc…well you get the picture).

Boy A lives in a loving home, gets abundant love and acceptance from his parents, is constantly praised for being a wonderful human being and has been taught to feel comfortable in his own skin no matter how he looks like.

Boy B is also part of a loving home but grows up with parents that place enormous importance on appearance. They closely control and monitor their (and their son’s) weight, exercise a lot, eat healthily and always make a fuss out of even a couple of extra pounds. They criticize people based on weight and appearance and deep down believe that overweight people are weak and are overweight only because of lack of self control.

Now imagine that these two boys relocate with their families and thus have to change schools. But the summer before moving, they tumble and fall in soccer practice and break their leg. As a result, they are not able to be very active during the summer and gain a couple of extra pounds. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, just a natural consequence of not being able to run around for two months.

First day in a new school, they are both under the microscope. Every inch of their appearance is being closely inspected by their fellow students and for some reason the bully “clique” of the school decides that they are fat and ugly and starts mocking them for their weight.

Two identical boys which will react completely differently because of how their perception has been shaped due to their upbringing. Boy A will likely simply brush it off and move on with his life. Even if he does take it to heart, when he goes home and tells his parents what happened, they will help him put everything into perspective. For Boy B, however, things are going to be much much different. In his family, putting on weight IS a big deal, it IS a problem that needs to be dealt with and this boy has probably already been chastised for his weight by his own parents (before enduring the ridicule of the bullies). Instead of perceiving this as simply a case of bullies being bullies (and as having nothing to do with his self worth), he will probably be deeply hurt and perceive himself worthless. He will most likely spend the rest of the year being a loner, being afraid of the bullies and avoiding eye contact.

This of course goes way beyond school, boys and a few extra pounds. But given that we have two identical boys it goes on to show how can perception shape our entire lives and very often hold us slaves.

So here I am, trying to alter my perception. My perception says that you have to satisfy conditions X, Y and Z in order to realize this particular dream of mine. If you don’t meet the requirements you don’t even have the right to be dreaming about it. You’re too old or too young or too far away from where the action is or a million other different reasons dictated by society’s “rulebook”.

Wrong. There are 10 billion people on this earth and 10 billion ways to do the same thing. We need to forget the book of rules and carve our own paths. Just because recipe A and B helped someone do something it doesn’t mean it’s going to help me or you.

I’ve spent so much time (and money) trying to follow other people’s recipes just because I didn’t feel confident to trust my own. While it’s admirable that people feel free to share their own success stories, trying to ‘recipe-ize’ a personal journey is not the way to go. I have come to the point where I cringe whenever I see people claiming to have the secret recipe to help you lose 100 pounds and keep them off for good, or come with the perfect startup plan and finance it from the get go, or write the perfect book that will be as big as Harry Potter or write the next hit song etc etc.

These are wonderful examples for us to observe and learn that anything is possible if you put your mind to it but unless we carve our own paths and we write our own rules, I get the feeling that we will always remain dreamers instead of doers.

But before any of this is possible we have to make one fundamental change. ALTER OUR FREAKIN’ PERCEPTION where it no longer serves us. If I go on believing that I’m too old to go after my dreams or if you feel you’re not pretty enough to get the man of your dreams….well then, we’re not going anywhere.

So the first step is to somehow find the way to reprogram those beliefs that no longer serve me and replace them with new ones that are in harmony with what I’m trying to do.

Big ambition but at least I can try. There goes perception again playing its games…why is it necessarily difficult to change our perception? Who says that it needs to be a hard thing to do?

I refuse to spend another minute of my life following rules written by others.

Over and out.