Author/speaker/spiritual teacher Byron Katie (http://www.thework.com/) tells a great story about an experience she had at a busy airport restroom. She waited in line and finally a woman emerged from the stall nearest where she was standing. Katie walked in and was immediately irritated to see the seat was completely wet! How inconsiderate and thoughtless of that woman, she said to herself. After Katie cleaned up the seat and was done, she flushed the toilet and as she unhooked the latch to leave, she noticed water from the commode backfiring and completely spraying the entire toilet seat!
Katie likes to say, "We're not always wrong, only 99% of the time."
How often do we meander down a trail of thought based on an assumption we're clinging to --about another person, a situation or whatever has triggered us--which in all likelihood is just flat out not true?
As a career coach, I hear stories all the time from clients who feel "wronged" by bosses, coworkers, clients, companies, HR departments, etc. Many times, when I suggest another way of looking at a situation, they realize how "off" their perception is about the situation. (My recent Career Management Resources newsletter: www.careerstrategists.net/htmlemail/july08.html) offered suggestions for moving beyond these wounds.)
Or, sometimes we adopt a certain way of seeing things that could be holding us back ("X is just too hard, it will cost too much, take too long, it will never work, etc.) and feel stuck in how we're perceiving the situation.
Last year, I pushed away accepting speaking engagements outside of Texas, thinking my son was too young, they would be too work-intensive, they wouldn't pay me enough to make it worth my time and on and on (you see where I'm going?).
About three months ago, I had a huge shift--don't ask me how-- around national/international speaking gigs and now my attitude is, bring 'em on--these are fun, easy, they let me leverage my strengths, they pay well and they provide me with a wonderful opportunity to help others on a larger scale! What more could I ask for?
Interesting how my perception changed so completely.
This morning, my sweet six-year old and I let Dad sleep in (he was up late playing at a Brazilian music festival) and decided to head out for an adventure.
We rode our bikes--for the first time--to the local Mexican restaurant 2 miles away for breakfast tacos. It was a bit of an obstacle course--navigating around dogs, other bikers, sprinklers, traffic lights, cars blocking driveways--and I have to admit, a part of me was slightly critical of the experience (wishing I had brought water, wishing the breakfast tacos were a little healthier, wishing my son's bike was a better fit for him, etc.).
But, my little guy perceived the morning as absolute perfection--"Mom, I love the breeze, we're riding our bikes somewhere new AND I just found a beautiful acorn on the sidewalk. This is the best time ever!!"
I'm grateful for my small, sweet teacher. And, the realization that a change in perception--and how we feel-- really is only a thought away.
P.S. If you feel like you're moving too fast to pause and question your "perceptions," check out my latest Life Balance newsletter: www.reneetrudeau.com/htmlemail/september2008.html and accompanying exercise on this topic.