Want to Win? Change Your Perception
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
― Wayne W. Dyer
Imagine you are standing inside a train. Someone hits you quite hard on your shoulder, from behind. How would you feel? Angry, right? You turn around and see that this person is actually a blind man who happened to trip behind you. How would you feel now? Sympathetic, right? Now, you might even extend your hand to help the blind man stand on his feet.
How is it that the same event can cause polarizing emotions in us?
The event didn’t change. But your perception about the event changed. This change in perception also caused your emotions and actions to change.
Perceptions are crucial to understanding our emotions, action, and our personality. In other words, our perceptions define us. If we want a better reality, a better life, we need to strive for better perceptions.
Take the case of the great athlete, Michael Jordan. Every time an opponent “trash-talked” to him, he didn’t react right away, or react as norm athletes do. He took them personally as a fuel to outdo his own potential. He channeled that “angry” emotions into actions that would enable him to beat his opponent in the game. In fact, he excelled every time someone from the other team insulted him.
Instead of reacting normally by “talking back” to his opponent, Jordan perceived a different reality. A reality where he saw himself winning. He perceived “insults” as opportunities to push his potential. This won him victory and respect, many times over.
A winner chooses the perception that propels her to grow, and disregards the rest.
Different people show different behaviors to the same situation. Winners choose perceptions that allow them to respond differently than the rest, and thus behave differently. What allows them to respond differently is rooted in the perception they choose.
A “winner” takes any emotional challenge from an event and uses it as fuel for her growth inwards, towards achieving greatness. The focus in not on the event (or the ‘other’ person) but on the self.
What is Perception?
“The quality of your life depends on the state of your mental programming.”
― Edmond Mbiaka
Perception is a way of understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
It can also be understood as a “programmed response” to an event (a stimulus). Perceptions are prepared responses that come from previous experiences.
If you feel something or have an emotion about an event or a person, you are basically executing an already prepared response. In other others, your brain has identified this event or person as the “past” that has already been “experienced” and thus formed a perception.
Perception help us define events to create emotions. Emotions (energy in motion) help us act — be it for our survival or growth. Our actions determine our behavior, and our behavior determines our character, our personality. Perceptions shape our personality.
Which Way Forward?
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
― Aldous Huxley
Recall the first hypothetical example of the you and the blind man in the train? While the event was the same, your perception and thus your emotion changed; from anger to sympathy. This shows that our mental model of reality is plastic, flexible depending on what information we feed ourselves through our senses.
Just like searching for a word using the search function in a computer program, our perceptions are constantly seeking events that they can attach to. Stronger the perception, the faster the search results will show up. The results correspond to the emotions we have about the event. And the quality of the results depends on the type of perception (our programmed response) we have.
As humans, we are opportunity seeking beings, and every perception is an opportunity. That is why we try to define an event with emotions. Emotion allow for efficient and powerful action. Emotions come from perceptions.
So, if there an emotion that you don’t want, try changing your perception.
Perceptions are the past. Your past brought you to your present. If you are struggling to go somewhere else, and feel stuck, change your past. In other words, change your perception. Break the pattern. Rewrite your program.
Question your perception. Or simply drop them. Or go against it by acting against your emotion so you can experience something new. When your experience is new, you gain a different perception. With meaningful experience created by intent, your develop positive and powerful perception. Like Michael Jordan. Like Martin Luther King. Like Gandhi.
It is extremely important to realize that emotions are the product of perceptions, so it is important to “use” them to your benefit instead of falling victim to them. As emotions are energy in motion, they can be hard to stop. So why not use them to your benefit regardless of how bad your emotions make you feel?
Good emotions are NOT necessary for growth. In fact, a lot of successful people have used negative bad emotions to grow individually and collectively. Like Oprah. Like Jane Goodall.
Strong emotions are ingredients for high achievements. Focus on the perceptions, not the emotions. When you have the right perception, your emotions will change.
Just like any habit changes, this requires intention and practice. The image of the spinning ballerina is a good example that allows your to change what you see using your intention, and thus change your perception. As you can see, our brain is plastic, flexible, trainable, programmable.
Conclusion: Take Control
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
― Carl Gustav Jung
We see with your brain, not your eyes. Eyes simply send information to our brain. Our brain decodes that information. The program that does the decoding is our perception. And perceptions are programmed, consciously or unconsciously.
Perceptions pick our emotions, and emotions lead to specific actions. Our actions determine our behavior, and character. Perceptions make our character, our personality.
The harder it is to change our perception of something or someone, the more important it is to do so if we are aiming for a winner mentality.
Take control of your life. Take control of your reality. Learn to develop healthy and conscious perceptions of a winner.