We all have a tendency to interpret situations, encounters, and experiences according to our own perceptions. If we are limited in our perceptions then our interpretations are also limited. If our perceptions are expanded, then we have a wider range of interpretations available to us. In other words, our world goes from black and white to living color.
One week in mid December, I was sitting at my mother's dining room table watching her baby cockatoos play in their cage. There was a plastic linked chain hanging in the center of the cage and at the end of it was one of the babies. She was hooked like a fish. I reached into the cage and all hell broke loose. The events that followed were fast, scary, painful, and desperate. The most important thing is we freed the baby. She was sore but unharmed.
I cannot tell you the exact sequence of events. I thought I knew what they were until my mom and I were discussing it afterward. We both had a different perception of how things unfolded based on our own involvement in the situation, where we were standing, how we felt, what we were thinking, and what role we each had in freeing the baby. There was no need to argue or prove which one of us was "right", we simply realized that we each had our own experience with the same situation. We were both "right" from our own point of view. And, we each had a limited point of view because we could not experience what the other experienced as we were not sharing the same body.
On the way home and the following days, I contemplated perceptions and how problematic they can be when we are attached to them or rely on them to make us "right". For instance, perceptions can result in judgment, hostility, anger, violence (including war), and personal suffering. They can create rigidity leading to black and white thinking and a steadfast belief that "I am right and you are wrong". Perceptions are limiting and when we are attached to them, they do not allow us to view a situation from other perspectives. They simply lock us into tunnel vision and we often cannot see beyond them without concerted effort.
Just for fun, I decided to consult Miriam Webster and looked up the root word, perceive: to regard as being such. That led me to regard: the basis for action or opinion (motive); which led me to motive: something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act. Well that explains it! Perception is based on a personal need/desire that causes one to form an opinion. The mind, then, determines the opinion to be true and that leads to action. Wow! I had to think about that for a while. The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it became. Why on earth would we knowingly take action on something the mind/ego has determined to be true? Why, indeed!
Changing that pattern requires self-awareness, determination, and a willingness to expand. It is not always easy. In my own perception changing experiences, I have notice that it is like being under water with a small weight around my middle. Swimming to the surface requires effort and sometimes struggle. Ah, but once I burst forth into the warm sun and take a big breath, the air is so very sweet. In that moment, I am aware that where there was once limitation within me, there is now release and freedom of movement. I am delighted with myself and the outcome.
My wish for all of us is that we examine our perceptions before we act to ensure that we are responding to others and the world from a place of Truth and wisdom (heart) rather than opinion (mind/ego).