Practicing Loving Kindness

“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. 

Gaslights, Light The Way

It is undeniable the damage a gaslighter can do if you get too close to their fire. Reality to me is something that is uncontested truth. I like facts, words and the concreteness of things. To some, reality is merely an illusion that is simply energy, a perisistent illusion. I think of reality as something that is real and existent as opposed to something that is imaginery, it is the totality of a system, known and unknown. Physcial objects, tangible and real things make up reality. I like to play with the “what-ifs” and the “what could be” once in a while, but I certainly am not blind to the “what-is” in my life.

But what happens when someone tries to undermine your entire perception of reality? 

Throughout my life I have met all sorts of people, from different backgrounds from my travels and even in my own city through school, work and different love relationships. The personalities that have helped solidify my own perception of myself the most where the… gaslighters. 

Gaslighters communicate in way that leave you feeling dazed, and make you question if there is something wrong with you.

Gaslighting is basically underming your reality. It is about power and control. Some basic tactics are minimizing your thoughts and feelings, deflecting and shifting blame, denying wrongdoing, using compassion as a weapon and twisting and reframing conversations. It is the behaviour not the person that I don’t tolerate. I believe that everyone can do better. I am not perfect myself and have caught myself torching others with these tactics. Awareness is key.

Gaslighters have shown me my light.

In the past I  have entertained opinions about my character and put them on to wear but they never fit. The negative realities and the perceptions that were not my own were itchy, uncomfortable and never sat well with me. I am not against constructive criticism but there is a fine line. My judgments and perceptions are my own to express no matter what the other person feels. If this is challenged to the point that I have lost my opinions and feelings and adopted the other persons perceptions this is no longer a true representation of my world. 

When my husband and I decided to change and grow and pursue a healthy life including going booze free, I thought we would receive only postive feedback. To my surprise that wasn’t the case, and not only did we receive negative feedback, but we found ourselves isolated for a while from people we thought we could trust and support us.

For a time I was confused but then I realized that I have a voice and I have the right to express it. I was able to carry my truth of my reality only when I wasn’t afraid to lose people that didn’t allow me to grow in my life and I let them go. 

Let the gaslighters carry their perception of you by themselves, you don’t need to burden yourself with other peoples opinions of you. I am glad I ditched those torches. That was not my baggage.

I think that if you make a commitment to your reality, and what you think your future should look like, this is more important than how others perceive you. I now understand that no matter how hard you try to please others, or try to explain your perspective and feelings, it is not worth losing your power and your sense of self.

You own your right to make space in the world and show up in a way that celebrates who you are. Raw, unfiltered and real. Too many times I have let my self-image, my persistence to please and my fear, take my voice away. Now I see, that even if I generate positive energy, make myself healthier or try to contribute for the good, there will always be opposition and that reality has nothing to do with me. It takes a gaslighter sometimes to show you the light, to help you solidify your own truth and give you strength to never allow anyone to dim your light again.

Hold that torch high.

Keep shining.

Keep moving. 

You Got This!