[09/25/23] Mind-Body Monday: Accepting Change: Lenses of PerceptionHeading
Does how we view people affect their ability to change?
My name is Casandra MacAlan and I want to thank you for joining me today. If you want to watch previous talks, you can find them under Media and Videos here, or on YouTube under Casandra Macalan: Thought Pain Therapy where I also have mini video reels which you can also see on TikTok and Instagram. Please like and subscribe, lol.
Today I want to explore how our perceptual lens of others and ourselves affects our ability to accept and acknowledge change.
So what is a lens of perception? I think of this like the lenses of glasses we might wear. They affect what we see, generally making it clearer. However, the lenses with which we see others don’t necessarily make them clearer to our vision. Instead, they tend to make them appear static, unchanging and expected.
We have a specific lens with which we always see somebody, and it is different then how we see other people. These lenses are made up of everything we know about them. Think of it like the way you would describe someone to someone else if you were being completely honest about how you see their personality. The way they talk, the things they love, the things they hate, how they respond to joy or adversity, whether they tend emotionally towards positivity, negativity or lack of caring.
For each person we hold a vision in our minds of who they are that can become so concrete that we couldn’t imagine them being any different. You can even apply this towards their appearance. Have you ever been shocked when someone you know and perhaps love changes their hair? OMG, you got bangs! You might say, lol. startled that they would be so radical. Or if they change their style of dress, start wearing glasses or contacts, gain or lose weight. It can be surprisingly annoying. We might even ask them why they did it. Tell them politely, of course, that we loved the way they looked before. This is because we can no longer view them in the same way. So now, we have to update our lenses to reflect this new perception of them.
I know for myself that over the course of my life I was always shocked when someone I knew would seem completely set off balance by the way I changed my hair. As if I should have gotten their approval first, even if they like it. Lol. This was because I was forcing them to change their view of me visually.
Sometimes people can’t even contain their outbursts of “Wow, you lost weight! Or “Oh my goodness you look so different.” To you, this might seem bizarre. Why does someone even care what we look like? Why do we even care what someone else looks like?
This is because of this lens. This can also be the reason why within the first few microseconds of meeting someone new, you try to place them in categories usually along the lines of gender, ethnicity and age. For some people, if they can’t figure out these personal characteristics of someone else, it can make them feel uncomfortable. They don’t know how to perceive them.
Now you might understand this perceptual lens as it relates to someone’s physical appearance but, believe it or not, it has an even stronger effect when it relates to the mental and emotional aspects of someone’s personality. We create a specific lens of everyone we know. A blueprint or image of how they “feel” to us as people.
I am going to share some common examples and as I do I want you to imagine people in your life who fit these: Ready?
Are they easy going, or uptight? Do they make decisions quickly or are they indecisive?
Are they calm in the face of unexpected change, or do they become anxious or irritable?
When they say they are going to do something do they do it immediately or are they prone to procrastinate?
Are they someone who complains a lot, or wears rose colored glasses?
Are they upbeat, cranky, silly, fun, serious, witty, wise?
We might even categorize them based on their faith or political beliefs, especially when they disagree with our own.
In other words we feel that we KNOW them. Perhaps we might even think we know them better than they know themselves, lol. So why does this matter? Why Is this a problem? you may be asking yourself. Well, it will become one when they start to change. Especially if we are close to them. If “who they are” is someone we rely upon or trust to be who we expect them to be. The positive and even the negative aspects of them. We have grown to rely upon the positive and we've created workarounds for the negatives.
For instance, if you were in trouble you probably could imagine exactly who you might call, maybe even depending upon the trouble. Lol. Or if you wanted to help accomplish something. Depending on the something, you might have different friends you would call. Who would you call to invite out to a party? Who would you rather hang out at home with while watching a movie? When a relationship goes awry, who would get angry on your behalf, and who would point out your responsibility in it? Who you would trust with your deepest secrets or who you would allow to hold when you cry? These could be different people. I bet you are thinking of specific people as I say this. Lol.
So what happens if one of these people begins to grow and change? Perhaps they no longer like the same things as they used to. Perhaps they became more extroverted or introverted than they were. Or maybe they might not like the same people they used to. Maybe they no longer “fly off the handle” or conversely, they’ve become more reactive to certain things that didn't seem to bother them before.
If you have ever known someone going through traumatic events, you might have noticed them becoming more reactive to things that didn’t seem to bother them. Or in the case of the women in my program, they become less interested in things that bring drama and more interested in peace. Less interested in gossip and more interested in positivity. But for those in their lives, this could be seen as becoming less fun by some, even if they are changing in ways that promote greater health and well-being for them.
This becomes even more problematic if we don’t want to see these changes. We want them to stay within the boundaries and expectations of the lens we have held about who they are. When we do this, we unknowingly fail to see the positive changes they are making because we are expecting them to “screw” up, or be the same thoughtless person we saw them to be.
Regardless of what someone does to change themselves for the better, they cannot change our perception of them, only we can do that. And if we continue to only focus on those aspects of their personalities that we remember, we won’t see all the positive strides they are making to become someone we might like even more.
Let’s say your husband decides he is going to help out more around the house. You might be very excited about the thought, but withhold the joy because “you know him”. Maybe you know that he has made promises before and not fulfilled them. Maybe you say to him, “sounds great!” But in your mind you think, “not likely”. You can bet that if you refuse to grant yourself a different view of him, then you will likely not notice what he has done in favor of noticing everything he hasn’t.
Over time, this lack of notice or appreciation might lead him to think, “what was the point of making the effort?” He himself might not even be able to hold the lens of these new options of behavior. For, becoming someone other than who we see ourselves as, is “breaking the habit of being ourselves,” as Dr. Joe Dispenza might say. Sadly, this is even harder than changing how we perceive someone else.
Think of a time you have thought about losing weight or starting a new exercise routine. If you are a woman in America I can guarantee that 99% of us have thought about this. Lol. Did you ever also tell yourself privately, “why should I bother, it won’t work?” Why did you say this? Just because you perhaps tried and failed in the past?
This is because your lens of yourself tells you that this is something you just can’t or won’t do. And since it seems hard or difficult to begin with, if you add the memories that you haven’t been able to meet your goals in the past, it can seem fruitless to even try. This perception has been already set.
But really, who cares if you haven’t been successful in the past? Why does it even matter? That was past tense. Today is the starting point of a new Becoming. Today holds nothing but potential for greatness. Why not change your own lens of you, and start seeing yourself as someone who can do hard things? Or as someone who has the potential to become anyone they want to be. Try anything they want to.
In fact, you are in this very moment, holding a warehouse of unlimited potentiality within you. Yesterday doesn’t matter anymore. Your failed starts, and your unfulfilled dreams, were all based on Who You Were. Which is not Who You Are Now.
This moment creates a new future, of becoming someone else. This new you, can find a better job and quit your old one. Get out of that old home and find one you really love. Change the relationship that isn’t fulfilling you. Change the body you don’t desire to be in. In fact, you CAN change yourself so radically that even YOU don’t recognize who you have become.
And when someone says, OMG what happened, you can say, I decided to become the person I was always meant to be and I am on my way.