“Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.”
This quote popped up on my Facebook feed the other day, and has been stuck in my mind ever since. The stories I tell myself of what other people are, are not always a true reflection of who they are. One part is receiving them and the other part is what my mind perceives of them. I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a false perception. It isn’t a good feeling. Bias, prejudice, discrimination, distrust, all of this clouds what could be a beautiful interaction between people.
Living in a diverse city with many cultures, I have been fortunate to have a variety of people from different backgrounds and places, come into my life. I haven’t ever thought that some of my disagreements with others came from my own flaws. What I know of myself, and see in myself, is what I see in other people. So, what I see in other people is basically a mirror. I have to check my world view and my opinions before I really let someone show up in my life. I have practiced my loving kindness meditation before without much thought. Now, I have realized that this quote can easily be applied to practicing compassion and loving kindness when it comes to receiving people we don’t agree with, click with or necessarily like. Loving kindness should be directed towards myself as much as possible, so that I am able to mirror that in my perceptions of others, and in turn show them love instead of bias and hate.
I sometimes don’t even know why I don’t like someone, my mind just simply decides. Sometimes, my distaste of other people have nothing to do with them but is directly correlated with my own shame and distaste of myself. The more I practice compassion and empathy for myself the more tolerant I am of other people, and I am able to change my perception of them. It isn’t always easy to find awareness and practice loving kindness when you would rather fuel hate and negativity. After all, anger is a rather strong force, but loving kindness is the only way to truly find yourself back to you. It is a way to be aware of the false perceptions you carry of yourself, and the bias/negative self talk that ruminates in your mind. Once I decide I’m going to show up in a way that allows compassion and empathy to be a part of my perceptions of myself, I am able to see people as their true reflections and not as a mirror of my own flaws and hurt. The journey to that state is achieved through practicing a deep loving kindness meditation. Back to the breath, straight to the heart.
My decision-making skills are levelling up as I grow. I have come a long way in making better decisions as my experiences and perspectives mature over time. When I decided to quit drinking, this was a decision that wasn’t made overnight, it was a culmination of bad experiences and mounting health issues that led me to decide. But not everything in my life was decided as so. Some of my decisions demand quicker responses, some need critical and deep assessment and some decisions are made for me without my control.
Here are some things to consider when making decisions that have guided my own decision-making process.
Give Yourself a Timeline
When my husband and I decided to quit drinking it was never a good time. There was always a birthday coming up, a dinner or a holiday. We simply just decided on a day and stuck to it. We gave ourselves this day so that when the day came, we were prepared to fully step into the new. It was easier to make the decision because we had each other for accountability. If you make a decision create a timeline for the action and ask someone in your life to hold you accountable to that action.
Align the Decision with your Values
Values are very personal and unique to you. They are what drives your motivation and sets priorities and goals in your life. What are values you ask? Things like honesty, integrity, authenticity, safety, taking responsibility and the list goes on. Core values are the foundation your life stands on. If you haven’t figured out what your core values are you aren’t going to make decisions that are best suited for who you are and what you truly need out of life. Ask yourself what is important to you so that you may determine what guides your attitude and actions. Health was one of my core values that I felt like I wasn’t honoring when I was drinking. So, when the decision was made to quit alcohol, I felt amazing that I was finally living in alignment with one of my core values. The decision was easy to make and even easier to stick with because of my awareness and dedication to my values.
Stop Second Guessing your Decision
When you second guess your decision, you don’t make a commitment to the outcome. This is a demonstration of fear and not owning your decision. Asking for feedback regarding a decision is great but it could also lead to externalizing responsibility of your decision-making process to other people and undermines your ability to understand who you are and cope with the unexpected. I know I have made some regrettable past decisions, and this sometimes leads to second guessing myself today and undermines my confidence in making good decisions. I commit to my decision by weighing the pros and cons and accepting the unexpected outcome. I can’t predict or control everything in my life, so I trust my instincts. A lot of decision making is based on guess work and guessing to the best of your ability and staying flexible is the only thing you can do.