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Perception...did that really happen?

Embarrassingly spilling coffee or awkwardly tripping up on the street and feeling so self-conscious and wishing that the  ground would open up and swallow me…the worst moment ever !!…Oh no everyone is looking at me …..and in fact no one was looking at me ….I think we can all recall one of those moments where our perception of an event or a moment was in fact not what actually happened but how we perceived it to be …and we believed it.

The dictionary definition of perception, is the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. But how often are our perceptions running the show?

When I was preparing to write this, I found myself falling into the trap of “Will they like it?” as opposed to being open and curious to myself as I write. The bullet points given to me as a guide were not matching my perceptions of how to write this blog. I was directly confronted with my own perceptions “what does the audience expect? Will it be good enough” and simultaneously fearing the perceptions of others …a double whammy hit. That feels vulnerable to say but it is also true!

Let’s start to think about how our perception is potentially clouding our judgement in each moment, limiting ourselves by our pre-programmed perceptions (everyone has their social, cultural, and personal experiences that shape their perceptions). These perceptions impact decisions we take as individuals and can impact our families, our workplaces and society. One thing I’ve noticed is that we struggle as a society with the fear of others’ perceptions and ultimately their judgement (which is based on their perceptions). How many times we don’t do or say or act because of the fear of others’ perceptions. Thinking about their perceived judgement when I could have been a perception ally. I have succumbed to my fear of the perceptions of others countless times.

If our perception is the lens with which we view life then is it fair to say that our behaviours, what we think, how we feel, how we show up in the world is controlled by our perceptions? That’s a scary thought!  I wanted to take a more human view on perception and how it can impact us in each moment. If I am honest, I think children could hold the answer to how to have a healthy perception. Is that why children are so fun to be around? I can’t really remember how I was as a child, but I know how my daughter was as a small child and continues to be at 11 years old. I would say she had no pre-conceived thoughts, simply fun, smiling, happy, pure, open to everything, curious and maybe the most impressive thing is that she was and is connected to herself.

I believe that a healthy perception starts with each of us, people want to talk about how people see them, but in fact perception starts with how we see ourselves and how we view the world and not with how others see us. Maybe this blog is creating a spark of interest in you to start cleaning up your perception lenses and maybe even taking them off completely?

I don’t think our organisations want us running around like small children but at least to reignite some fun and creativity! If we are open to the possibility that our perception is not always the truth, un-investigated perceptions can narrow your opportunities, hold you back from doing what you truly want to do……keep you stuck in unhelpful patterns. Then I would say it’s time to pay attention to your perceptions.

One last thought.  I notice when I change or enlarge my perception on a topic or situation, a new experience shows up or a sudden solution appears quickly. And I wonder whether it was always there, or I could not see it before? Keeping it simple, if we could start to investigate and broaden our own perceptions of ourselves, we might see more and hear more. New ideas present themselves to us, new opportunities arrive, and alternative options become possible.

Diversity of thought enriches your own journey and allows us to have a growth mindset, empowering us to express our feelings, apply for that role and that we can have fun along the way. We are all good enough.

Coming back to those embarrassing moments, …next time I trip up on the street, I will do as my daughter does, I will skip hop out of it ….and stay connected to me.