Your interpretation of reality – what happened at any specific point in time, your current circumstances, and your future potential, is just that, YOUR interpretation. Let that sink in for a minute. Your interpretation is created based on prior experiences, beliefs, and how much value you attribute to those beliefs. The fact your spouse is late for an event could mean he/she doesn’t love you, doesn’t respect you, didn’t listen, doesn’t care, forgot, or is a poor time manager – completely dependent upon your beliefs about your spouse, your personal experiences, expectations, and how much value you place on tardiness. It’s not reality. It’s your perspective of reality. Let’s take a look at this concept in greater detail, how it’s completely messing with your life, and how you can use it to your advantage.
A Christmas Request
My 30-year-old son asked me to write a book of my life stories for him for Christmas. Being someone that has journaled and enjoyed writing for my entire life, I saw this as an interesting project. Because I’ve had a rather eventful life, I even started my own book of stories some 20 years ago. So, yeah, this was going to be a piece of cake. When I asked why this was important to him, he said he realized he was already beginning to forget some of his own stories so he started to see the value in the process. Keep in mind, this is the same child that told me all the keepsakes I had from his childhood were really for me, not him and he couldn’t care less what I did with them.
An interesting thing happened as I started to create this book. I’d start a story from my past and realize I couldn’t recall certain details. This eventually led me to research within my own files and see if I’d journaled about the event or written about it at another time. I found many, many times that the stories written today didn’t match the stories written 20 years ago. And even when I read the older versions, I didn’t remember the event the way I had written. And when I asked my brothers and sisters about certain events, in many cases we had entirely different versions of the same event.
Shaping Your Reality
As it happens, I’m always learning and reading, and the books I read include a lot about shaping our reality and future. While I’ve been reading these types of books for years, it’s funny how they mean something different based on the experience you are having at the moment. It became glaringly obvious that my interpretation of events not only was probably inaccurate, but I also began to realize they were completely shaped by who I was and what I believed at that point in time. If I was going to church at the time, there was a Christian interpretation. If I was angry at where my life was at the time, there was a judgmental interpretation.
We truly are creating our own reality at every moment of every day.
And two (or five or fifteen) people can witness the same event and have completely different experiences of that event. It doesn’t make one wrong and one right. It simply makes them different.
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Taking Time to Ponder
One of the biggest mistakes I think many people make in their growth journey is to fill their minds with as much information as possible but not take the time to ponder, reflect, and think about what that information means for them, at this point in their life. More information is not necessarily better. I say that because I want you to ponder what you just read. Think about it for days. Think about it the next time you have a disagreement with someone. Think about it the next time your kid tells you a tall tale. Think about it when a co-worker makes an excuse for why they didn’t get their part of the project completed. Think about the possibility that your interpretation of reality . . . at any point in time, may not be accurate.
There are actions and then there are interpretations of actions. We can’t deny actions but our interpretation of those actions is exactly that, our interpretation.
Related Article: Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery
This idea, your perception, is messing with your life because you have assigned labels to events based on your interpretations of those events. You can interpret an action a loved one took as evidence that you are unlovable or broken in some way as evidence that the other person was not in a place in their lives where they could give love in the way you needed it. You can interpret being bullied as a child as evidence you are unworthy and flip that script into evidence the bully felt powerless and it had nothing to do with you. You can interpret your divorce as a failure or as a stepping stone to the rest of your life. Every single story from your past can be reinterpreted into something that empowers you and moves your life in the direction you want to go. Those negative stories you are hanging onto are holding you back, and they likely aren’t even true.
Think about how empowering that is!
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if your perspective is accurate or not, you can change it anyway to something that empowers you.
Related Article: Are You Being Complacent or Accepting Reality?
This is your book and you can re-write and edit it at any point!
Shaping Your Future
Let’s take that a step further and talk about your future. Now that you know you get to decide how to interpret any event, why not create empowering interpretations? Seriously, who is going to hurt?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying if you are being mistreated by someone you should just change your interpretation of the event and allow the abuse to continue. What I’m saying is if this is the case, you are empowered to believe you can change your living situation, step away from a relationship, get the help you might need, and that others are there for you. Instead of claiming a victim mentality, you can choose to believe you are empowered and that there are people to help you if needed.
Anytime you are making someone else responsible for your happiness, you are interpreting life as a victim. Empower yourself by looking at your situation from a different perspective.
Change your perspective and write your own damn story!