When you look around at your world, what do you perceive? Do you see what’s there or a figment of your imagination? Do you see reality or a made-up version of your life? Maybe you see what you want to see, what you think you should see, or what your subconscious mind tells you to see. Or perhaps you see what’s real.
The Imaginary Rival
In the past few weeks, a little California Junco has been “visiting me.” He’s been going wild pecking on and flying into the windows of my home. He sees his reflection in the glass and thinks it’s a rival. Maybe he has a nest nearby—maybe even some eggs or babies to protect—and he wants to protect his home and family.
Over and over again, he flies up to the window and flutters around. Sometimes he even walks around near the sliding glass doors or on the roof near the window in my office, pecks on the glass, and then jumps up and flutters his wings.
He spends his whole day fighting with something that isn’t there. In fact, he battles himself.
And he goes out of his way to see this imaginary rival. The bird often leaves the house and flies over to the cars parked in the driveway. There he perches on the driver or passenger side front window. He then sees his reflection in the side-view mirror. Then, what do you think he does? He pecks on and flies into the side view mirror flapping his wings.
This bird spends his whole day fighting with something that isn’t there…with a false perception of reality, one he creates in his head. His real rival—the one he needs to fight—is himself, or, more specifically, his mind.
What Do You Perceive?
Can you relate to the Junko? I know I can…
It’s easy for your mind to go wild and create a false perception of your world, life, relationships, health, career, or just about anything. And then you spend your time focused on that false perception.
You fight with it. You try to understand it. You walk circles attempting to get a better view. But whatever you see exists only in your head.
Or maybe you are creating it with your interpretation of what you see. After all, the Junko does see his reflection. It’s there. But he interprets it incorrectly. He gives that reflection a different meaning—“rival” instead of “self.”
You Determine How You Perceive Life
What you experience is, in significant part, determined by you. As you interpret events, you give them meaning. If the meaning is scary, upsetting, or stressful, you feel those emotions. If you decide it is joyous, fulfilling, or supportive, that’s how you feel.
Often our perceptions are not accurate—like the Junko’s interpretation of his reflection and how that made him feel. You might perceive lack where there is abundance. You’ll then fight with your belief that there is not enough—that’s what you’ll see and experience. You might see competition where there are partners, and you’ll struggle with the sense that you must “win” rather than welcoming the opportunity to work together.
The Bathroom Mirror Experiment
Go into the bathroom and look in the mirror. What do you see? Do you focus on your wrinkles, cellulite, and unruly hair? Or do you see a beautiful face, perfect body, and attractive all-over appearance? I bet you focus on what you don’t want or don’t like. You also see something different than what others see, and, therefore, your experience is different.
The same goes for a person who has bulimia or anorexia. He or she looks in the mirror and sees a fat person even though they are skinny. They struggle with their false image of themselves.
But we all do that to some extent, just not always with our interpretation of our weight.
With what false image of yourself do you struggle most often? What do you see as your daily rival?
Change Your Perception
To stop fighting with the “bird in the mirror,” you must determine the false perception you fight with most often. You have to become conscious of the fact that you are fighting with yourself—and you can’t win that battle.
Here are six ways you can begin to see clearly—to discern the reality of what you experience.
1. Ask others what they see. If you aren’t sure what’s real and what isn’t, ask someone impartial for feedback. Ask someone you trust what he perceives. Say, “This is where I feel like I’m struggling. I see things I need to push against, fight with, peck at. Can you tell me if they’re real?” The person’s response provides you with a reality check.
2. See the situation or condition from someone else’s perspective. If you have no one to “look in from the outside,” try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. In the process, you’ll find you can see your life or events from someone else’s viewpoint.
3. Look for evidence. Find proof that your perception is real or fake, true or false. For the Junco, every time he hits himself against the window or the car mirror, that’s proof that he has interpreted the bird he sees incorrectly. He’s not banging against another bird but glass.
4. Create a new vision. What you currently see is an idea of your creation. If you don’t like it, it’s incorrect, or it’s a figment of your imagination, decide to see something different. Create a new vision with your imagination. Visualize what you do want to see or what you know is real. Use this tool as a powerful way to create a new experience.
5. Journal about what you see. Write on a consistent basis about what you perceive. During your journaling time, ask yourself if what you have experienced is real or not.
6. Get support. If you continue to struggle with the rival you’ve created, get some help. Find someone with objectivity who can take a look at what you see and help you determine if it is real. Hire a coach, counselor, or therapist.
See More Clearly
Once you have a better handle on what’s real and what isn’t, you can change your interpretation of what you see. That will alter your experience as well. With your new understanding, you can create change in your life.
This type of transformation takes time. But you will be able to look at and see your life through a different lens. You’ll know when what you perceive is an illusion (or reflection) that you can change. In the process, you’ll stop struggling with those mind creations.
Learn to look at the world through different eyes. Evaluate what you see and what you fight. Teach yourself to discern false perceptions from reality.
What’s your biggest perceived rival?
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