THIS IS AN EXERCISE TO FREE YOU FROM YOUR PERCEPTIONS!
Decide To Deliberately Change One Perception, Idea Or Judgement
You Have Held Inside Yourself For A Very Long Time – ONLY ONE!
It Doesn’t Matter What It Is – Begin With A Small And Easy Thought.
Simply Notice That Thought – DO NOT ACT ON IT – Just Notice It.
Do Not Judge Yourself For Having The Thought – It Means Nothing.
Simply Watch it – Notice How Much NOTHING It Really Means.
As You Watch, You Will Feel Its Power Fade
BECAUSE NOTHING CAN HAVE ANY POWER
As It begins to Feel Smaller And Lighter – Replace It With One You Like
Replace It With A Thought That Represents The Person You Really Are
What Does That Feel Like?
Does The New Thought More Readily Fit Your Being In Every Way?
I Am Going To go A Little Bit Out On A Limb Here And Say It Does!
Congratulations! You Have Just Taught Yourself One Very Basic Exercise That You Can Use To Your Great Advantage For as Long As You Are Still Able To Take Another Breath.
You Have Just Proven To Yourself That:
YOU GET TO DECIDE EXACTLY WHAT YOU REALLY THINK IN ANY SITUATION. THIS IS A SIGNIICANT GIFT.
A Course In Miracles teaches us that the world we see outside ourselves is a projection of that which occurs on the inside. By deciding exactly what you will allow yourself to think in any given situation, such as you have done in the above example, you are choosing to exercise control over the only thing that you really can control – Your Thoughts.
I don’t imagine that you will decide to create thoughts that are inherently evil, hateful, violent, vengeful or miserable thoughts. If that is what you wanted to do, you wouldn’t need to read this blog post to learn how. You already know how to do that. But you do not like how they make you feel and you are afraid that they may just turn out to be who you really are.
But they absolutely CANNOT be who you are because we have already found out that you began as an idea in the Mind of God and that we have all been created as loving extensions of the love of God. It is a great example of Love doing what love naturally does, extending itself to create more love. Whereas fear constricts, confines, and restricts you and your thinking to the lowest and smallest form imaginable, which is the ego.
You have proven to yourself that you do have control over that which occurs between your own ears, which is your thinking, and by default, over your feelings and your behavior. By doing so you have:
• eliminated the possibility of reacting to any situation in a variation of the exact manner you have always reacted, without knowing that you are doing so, and not knowing you don’t know.
• created a little bit of separation (not the type of separation that a one-of-a-kind, world class, All Star Wide Receiver like Randy Moss seeks to achieve between himself and any hapless cornerback that is trying to keep up with him tries to get) between the stimulus and your reaction.
• Avoided creating an embarrassing situation from which extrication is often somewhat difficult.
• Demonstrated a level of wisdom that is quite noticeable
• Spoken your truth, which is never attacking, belittling, or embarrassing to anyone, especially yourself.
• been genuine, neither manipulative nor confrontational, trolling, and taken yet another step toward becoming the person you really are; The person God originally intended you to be.
Remember, feelings follow thoughts and behavior follows feelings. You cannot improve your life, you cannot create positive, long-lasting change for yourself in a way that you can depend on, over, and over, and over again, if you are focusing on your feelings or your behavior.
Feelings and behavior are the effect, they are not the cause. The cause is thought. And it is here that you need to focus, just like you taught yourself in the previous exercise, if you want to have something you can depend on for the rest of your life, to make the adjustments that are necessary for living a long, prosperous and happy life.
One of the reasons I have become so enamored with A Course In Miracles is because it is a self-study system of MIND TRAINING. It is not a religion but it is very spiritual in nature. The Course encompasses many of the spiritual truths that all the major religions agreed upon long before dirt was invented. There is no dogma or doctrine. It is a self-study system of mind training with the goal of changing a thought system based on fear, to a thought system based on love.
Now we know that real and lasting change can only be made at the level of cause. And thought is the level of cause, which means that it is the best place to begin. I have a strong feeling that most people do not know that they have a fear-based thought system that is uniquely their own, and how much that thought system is responsible for making almost all their decisions. But you wouldn’t necessarily think of yourself having a thought system based on love, either. So, it isn’t the fear or the love that creates a stumbling block that keeps getting in your way, it is the concept of a thought system itself.
This is somewhat easy to understand once it is explained properly. However, I’m not sure that the explaining is all that easy. But, here goes! Your thought system is designed and defined by the sum-total of every experience you have ever had, everything you learned (or think you did not learn) in school, everything you’ve read, all the people who have crossed your path. Every job you have held and relationship you have developed – all of this is grist for the proverbial mill and forms the veil through which you see the world you occupy today. Essentially, anything you’ve experienced with your five senses up to this point occupies its very own part of the jigsaw puzzle that is the basis of your thought process. It is through the veil of this amalgamation that you view and think about everything that occurs in your life today.
And, given the fact that that there isn’t another person on this planet who has had your unique set of experiences. It would be impossible for anyone to exactly share a thought system with you. Therefore, your thought system is unique. Of course, there is the possibility of parallel universes, but I don’t think we will have to cross that line real soon.
The fact remains that you probably never stopped long enough to consider that your way of thinking is a unique way of looking at the world. If you are not aware of that you cannot change it.
Why would you want to change your perception in the first place?? It is because you think that how you perceive everything is WHO you are, once again without giving it much conscious consideration. But now, you are armed with the knowledge that you have a choice. You can settle for the status quo, or understand that your current thought process is really a representation of everything that has occurred in the past and is therefore not at all representative of who you really are. The Real You was an idea in the mind of God that He then created as you – all of that came long before this very short-in-the-scheme-of things human experience you are now enjoying.
The process begins by understanding that your thinking has been formed and shaped by everything that has occurred in your life and could therefore, not be a representation of YOU. Because it also represents everything that you did not create. Only your creations can represent you. So, in order to become the person you really are, you must begin to notice your perceptions – especially the dark and ugly thoughts that walk across the top of your head upon occasion, and consciously change it to something else. About this, you need to be highly vigilant. You will find the exercise we did backat the beginning of this post to be very helpful here.
I have created three examples for you to read and think about by way of illustrating this most important step for you to take. So, I hereby present you with the example of The Auto Accident, The Game of Telephone, and the Mona Lisa.
Three Examples of How Your Perception Is Never Correct
The Automobile Accident
It is not an uncommon experience for police officers to arrive at the scene of a car accident and interview the witnesses to determine exactly what happened. It is also not uncommon for the officers to take statements from six different people who witnessed the accident, and get six entirely different stories. For all practical purposes, there might well have been six different accidents, because there really isn’t much agreement from one story to the next. Six individuals saw the same event with their very own eyes, but everyone reports the “facts” in significantly different ways.
While there exist enough points of commonality from one version of the accident to the next, or from one perception to the next, that a plausible series of events can be cut and pasted together to tell a nearly accurate story, there are enough differences to make one wonder if there really was only one accident. So, the officers dutifully report back to the station house and retire to the Information Reconstruction Conference Room (IRCR), an area specifically designed for officers to share their notes with each other and come to a consensus on what REALLY happened.
As if by magic, there always seems to be a fresh pot of coffee brewing in the IRCR, which is a necessity for the work that must be done. This post-crime conference room is also fitted with a combination high-speed color copier and scanner, a built-in overhead projector, a whiteboard with colored markers and an eraser, wall to wall carpeting, and a long mahogany table with very comfortable genuine imitation leather chairs. There is a side table for those occasions that require lunch to be served at the tax payers expense, and a large cork board upon which the station dart board hangs, is securely fastened to a far wall.
Our stoic defenders of public peace enter the room where the conference is expected to take at least a couple of hours. A set of precisely balanced darts is found in the closet, and between bites of roast beef sandwiches, they begin the official process of deciding which version of the accident will be reported as the official and unbridled truth!
Welcome to the murky world of human perception, where nobody is ever right about anything they perceive in the world outside the boundary of their own skin. Of course, there was only one accident, just as there is ever only one truth. And only truth is true. But because six people perceived it, there were six different accounts.
Yet all the witnesses sincerely believe that they recounted the accident exactly as it happened. Which then begs the question: Where do the differing accounts come from? The answer is that each person saw the before, during, and after events of the accident through the limited filter of his or her own perception. These individual accounts reflect an accumulation of everything that has occurred in the life of that person to this point. The sum-total of each person’s unique history has formed the interpretation they make about the event today. This may sound a little bit strange, but it would not be inaccurate to say that
The accident really happened iNSIDE the conscious mind of each witness.
Therefore, in a very real sense, nobody ever sees or hears anything accurately. I am sure you have had the experience of saying something to someone, only to learn that their understanding of what you said isn’t even remotely close to your actual words and their real intent. It is astonishing when we hear back from someone else what they think we said! The other person has run the conversation through their universal internal translator, the mechanism that scrubs and re-codes the actual conversation into a new format that is more amenable to their interior organization of perceived information.
Now, imagine this very same dynamic playing out between the nations of the world every day, or between worldwide religions, political parties, family members, or employers and employees. It certainly doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to realize that nobody is ever exactly right about anything. Perception is always flawed. Yet wars have been started and millions of people have died as a direct result of flawed human perception. It is never right.
A Course In Miracles asks the question: “Would you rather be right or happy.”
We have all played some variation of the game, “telephone”. The game is a very simple one. It is played when a group of people sit in a circle, there could be 8, 10, or 50 people participating (I am sure it would work if there were only 3 people playing!) and the intent is to pass a message from one person to the next, around the circle of participants. The goal is to have the original message arrive back at its source, completely intact and un-altered.
This game is a blast because, by the time the phrase gets to the third set of ears, it is obvious that success will never be achieved. You would think that with everyone focusing so intently on keeping the original phrase intact, each individual participant would be able to do so. Not! Usually, by the time the phrase comes full circle, it bears no resemblance to the original.
Remember, everyone playing the game is intent on producing an exact repetition of the phrase they heard. They are focused and determined, and all they need to do is bring their entire attentive ability to the person next to them, and listen for a phrase that might contain only five words. But they are still unable to accurately perform this one little task of hearing and repetition. It is no wonder, then, that there is so much “miscommunication” in every day life. When you are giving instructions to an employee (I could write chapters on this one point alone!), or having an emotional conversation with your spouse, everyone is running the data through their internal translator and coming up with an amalgamation that is not even close to the original conversation. What are the implications of this phenomenon on international relations, understanding between major religious groups, or even political parties? The ramifications are endless. This phenomenon is happening all the time, at every level of human existence, and it has enormous effects on every relationship you have.
The Mona Lisa Does Not Lie
There could be ten people standing in the Louvre, simultaneously admiring the timeless beauty of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. The assemblage could be comprised of ten art critics, ten heads of state, or ten janitors. And it would not matter because the result would be the same. All ten people will have a slightly different response, a different feeling level, a different interpretation of what they are seeing. What is happening? Does the painting change? Is it ten different paintings? No! What is happening is a variation of the phenomenon of the accident witnesses and the “telephone” game players.
Everyone gazing upon the Mona Lisa is having a different reaction depending upon their own history, the unique circumstances that formulate the foundation, framing, wiring, plumbing, windows, walls and roof of their lives to that point. They are bringing the entire collection of their unique personal histories and experiences right into the present moment because that is all they know. They are perceiving this masterpiece through the filter that is formed out of the unique circumstances of their lives to that point in time. At some level, we are all doing precisely that in every interaction, relationship, conversation, feeling, and experience we have.
THEREFORE, PERCEPTION IS NEVER ACCURATE, IS ALWAYS JUDGEMENTAL, AND IT CAN NEVER, THAT MEANS NEVER, BE TRUSTED.
YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST RELAX, SAVE THE ENERGY, AND USE A OUIJA BOARD IF YOU ARE EVER TRYING TO DETERMINE WHAT SOMEONE ELSE IS THINKING. YOU CANNOT KNOW THAT! IF THAT IS ONE OF THE CRITERIA UPON WHICH YOU ARE ATEMPTING TO DETERMINE A COURSE OF ACTION, FORGET IT! IT IS A MUCH BETTER STRATEGY, AND WILL CAUSE REMARKABLY LESS STRESS, TO SIMPLY ASK QUESTIONS AND CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE ANSWER. YOU WOULD BE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE ACCURATE AND IT WOULD HELP TO RELIEVE THE DISTRESS IN MAKING DECISIONS.
In a very real sense, we all live in the past rather than today. If you think about it, the past is all we really know for sure. BUT NOW WE UNDERSTAND THAT OUR PERCEPTIONS WERE MOSTLY INCORRECT BACK WHEN THEY WERE MADE IN REAL TIME. So what is true? This is surely a very interesting question, with the answer depending on the perspective you take in its formulation. At the very least, you can extrapolate the examples of six people watching a car accident and groups playing “telephone” across the dynamic of entire populations, religions, countries, political parties, races, and genders, or dealing with other individuals. It is no small wonder that, ever since the big bang, there has always been a war raging somewhere on this planet.
Therefore, it is an absolute certainty that every experience we have is misinterpreted by us, in some way, shape, or form. We can’t help it, we are human. The problem is that we don’t know how flawed our perception is, and we don’t even know that we don’t know. IT IS A SURE BET THAT OUR PERCEPTION, WHICH IS A TOOL OF THE EGO, IS, IN SOME MEASURE LARGE OR SMALL, INCORRECT.
ACCORDING TO A COURSE IN MIRACLES, FORGIVENESS IS THE ANSWER. FORGIVENESS IS THE ONLY ANSWER. IT IS THE BEST TOOL WE HAVE AVAILABLE TO SAVE OURSELVES FROM OURSELVES. IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL WORK.
If we can come to the place that we feel comfortable in accepting our limited perceptive ability, then every argument, disagreement, or fight we have with another person allows us the opportunity to at least consider the fact that we have been partially wrong. And quite possibly even entirely wrong. It is in the best interest of everyone concerned if we take responsibility for our errors in perception, even if we don’t know exactly what they are at the time.
We can create enough uncertainty in our own position to allow the other person to take a similar measure of uncertainty and misunderstanding in their position. And if the other person does not go there, that is entirely ok. We are not doing this for them. We are doing it so that we can feel better and give ourselves the room to find the truth.
If we are willing to approach this line of thinking enough to stop and consider the possibility of a different perspective, we will become ready for real forgiveness to weave its unlimited magic into our lives. If you are not yet willing to go there, all you need to do is be willing to be willing, and the magic will begin.
THE PARADOX IS THAT WE GET TO FORGIVE THE OTHER PERSON FOR OUR OWN MISTAKES IN PERCEPTION. Our forgiveness has nothing to do with anything the other person said, did or felt. It has only to do with us, which is the only thing we can do anything about. The amazing thing about practicing forgiveness in this manner is that it releases us from the bondage of the situation and the person. We become free.
It does not matter whether or not the other person acknowledges or accepts our forgiveness. It does not mater whether or not we ever see or talk to the other person again for the rest of our natural lives. We are free because we have forgiven them for our error in perception.
For example, I am editing this piece on Forgiveness that I wrote a while ago. It is August of 2016 and I was just outside working on the pool. (I rescued four frogs) As I was working along, I was pretty well lost in my thoughts because pool scrubbing is a relatively mindless activity. All of a sudden I thought about the members of the Congress and Senate in 2003 that voted to allow George W. Bush, Dick Chaney, and their NeoCon friends to first bomb and then invade Iraq. I thought of a conversation I had with Michelle Obama about how scared they all were to be the target of Bush and Cheney’s wrath. This meant that holding onto their seats in the Congress and Senate was more important to all of them than standing up and voting for what was right. So, I forgave them, because they didn’t know how scared they were, and they didn’t know they didn’t know. As soon as I forgave them, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. I was free of them. And I am now able to listen to George W. Bush when I see him on TV and do so without cringing, or reacting in any other manner that is not in my own best interest.
I know that this sounds a little bit crazy. It is backwards, diametrically opposed to everything we ever learned growing up, and is very difficult to wrap your brain around. But it works. I promise that all you have to do is be willing to try, and the entire fabric of your life can change. Mine did, and I am certainly nothing special.
The miracle of forgiveness, then, is an extraordinarily powerful mechanism for freeing us from the binding chains of judgment and prejudice, fear and hatred, isolation and loneliness. It is a gift from God that comes to us through the Holy Spirit, or Universal Consciousness for Good, if that definition helps you to more closely approach the concept.
Forgiveness allows us to more fully connect to our Real Selves, the person God originally intended for us to be.
It doesn’t get much better than that!
George Wallace would love to hear your thoughts about and see your comments on the blog posts.