By Caitriona McMahon @
Before we start let’s try a quick experiment. Take a look at the picture below what do you see?
Now take a moment to look at the next picture what do you see?
At first glance I saw a swimmer in the top picture similar to the picture below it. Others may have seen a caterpillar or perhaps something completely different.
It varies depending on one’s perception. Consider for a moment a line of people each wearing a pair of swimming goggles standing along a wall watching a boat pass by.
Even though all those in the line are witnessing the same event each person is experiencing it entirely differently due to their perception.
You see perception acts like goggles shaping how we see daily life events and therefore also controls how we chose to react to such things. Take for instance this famous dress saga.
Was it white and gold or blue and black? We were all looking at the same dress perhaps some of us even in the same room together when we each saw a completely different colour dress.
How could this be? Maybe there’s more to people and things than meets the eye. Perhaps our goggles are a little foggy.
Perception goggles now not prescription, also carry a protective factor (just as goggles do in swimming).
Having learnt from past experiences it shapes our view of reality with self preservation in mind. Perhaps they protect us from pain and hurt by editing what we see.
The phrase ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’ comes to mind. Take for instance someone with high cholesterol or diabetes. Many may think to have either condition, a person must be overweight. However this is not the case. Stick man himself could have cholesterol through the roof.
Our perceptions are what make us unique and what I hope to achieve by writing this article is to encourage people to question their beliefs, assumptions, judgments that up to now have shaped their perceptions of the world they live in.
Whilst this unique view on the world is mostly useful and positive: sometimes making judgments and comments about others or ourselves can be damaging or hurtful.
As learnt behaviours these patterns of automatic thought can be rewired and challenged, just like a circuit board.
In recent years I have felt the pain of such judgments from others firsthand. Comments like ‘You must have stopped training have you?’ or ‘You have put on a lot of weight, do you race walk anymore?’
I’ve even been asked on numerous occasions if I was pregnant and on one occasion was congratulated on the birth of my baby: P.S I had no baby.
These comments or assumptions may not have cost the other person a moment’s thought but for me they played on my mind for months.
I must not forget the classic remark ‘Should you really be eating that?’. I knew it was just their perception but why would they say anything?
Did they even consider it could be upsetting to hear or that their view that the only possible reason for weight gain was lack of training maybe in actual fact untrue?
My weight had increased mostly at the time due to specific medication but what confused and aggravated me was the all important question…what gave these people or anyone the right to judge or even comment on my appearance?
Was it affecting them? Did the extra few pounds I was carrying make their lives a little more difficult? Did it affect their sleep, their job or family life? They certainly spoke and acted as if it did. What was even more upsetting was the depression /anxiety went unnoticed and why? Because it was not visible.
We live in such a superficial world at times trying to keep up with the Joneses.
What’s it all for? What does it matter if I have a slight rip in my top or a mark on my pants, if above it all I have a smile on my face. Do we even look at the face?
“The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets,
The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears,
and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain.”
Whether its weight loss or weight gain, dressing like an Eskimo in summer or strolling through town naked in winter, who are we to comment or judge another person?
I cannot count the number of times I’ve witnessed people commenting to someone on their appearance in a negative way. But why? Why do we do this? How often do we think how would I feel being asked that?
Would you fire a sliotar at a wall if you knew it would come back and hit you in the face at the same speed? I think not…