Perspective is a concept that fascinates me because of the way I process information. I'm naturally curious, which leads to ease, but my learned habit of permanence messes with that. I am a reformed control freak (do I hear a "ME, TOO!"), and that means my habit is to control outcomes. My learned perception is that control is necessary to keep me safe. However, my reality is already safe. So, I’m wasting a lot of energy trying to control something that already exists. My need for control is a habit, and to change a habit I must first change my perception.
It’s all about perception. If I told you that today was your last day to spend with your family, would you do anything differently? Of course you would! You would tell email and Facebook to wait while you colored with your third grader, or took the dog for a walk. You would prioritize much differently.
That’s what happened to me when the doctor cocked her head to one side, put on the sad eyes, and told me the tumor was malignant. In the next few seconds I thought two things: 1. I bet that was hard for her to say. Man, I would want her job, and 2. Finally, I have a great excuse to lie down for a long time. THAT’S how tired I was from having my priorities out of whack. Every time my 10-year-old would ask, “Mommy can you come look at this/play with me/cuddle right now?” I would reply, “In a minute, Punkin.” And sometimes I would put down the phone/computer/laundry/dirty dish and go spend time with her, but mostly, I just forgot. Because my perception was that getting “the work” done was more important. I was a Human Doing.
When the doctor gave me her news, I had a Perception Shift. I began to look at all my Human Doing rules, charts, and lists, and I decided to do something differently. I decided that if I only had a few months to live (because who knows how that eight hour surgery could turn out), I was damn sure NOT going to spend it on email. That’s how a shift works. It starts in your mind and your heart, then it slowly ripples outward into your choices for how you spend your time.
I decided that I wanted to help people instead of shop and work all the time. So, I went through my 8 month life coaching certification, quit my commercial real estate job, and buried my dad, my mom, and my right breast. That was the first year. I’m now eight years post cancer, and my perceptions are still changing, even as my mission hasn’t wavered one iota.
I still steer toward a life filled with purpose and meaning, every day. I’m a slow learner, so some days are clearer than others. I’m still not great at knowing when to rest, so my body is smart enough to give me a migraine when I’ve gone too far. But my perspective on migraines has changed completely. I now know that migraines are not a curse, they are merely a course correction. I push my body too far, and then my body shuts me down. Isn’t that fascinating?
My perception of my life is much closer to a scientist lovingly observing an experiment. If we can all take the perspective that our life is ours to live as we choose, then we can create a life that’s closer to our version of ideal. We can adjust our Perception and thereby adjust our Reality.
How will you shift your perspective this week? Start small and notice the effects—then tell me all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org or write it on the Big Board at GPS!