Monday, September 27, 2010

What You See Is What You Get

The HSBC bank has unwittingly provided New Yorkers with daily reminders of the most fundamental principle of maintaining peace: projection makes perception. Meaning, the way we experience our world around us depends primarily on how we view it.  The good news here is that if we are having a negative experience or an unfavorable feeling, all we have to do is change how we see it!

Let's take the example below.  A picture of the Manhattan skyline is displayed from the Brooklyn side.  Let's say you are the person who thinks of the Manhattan skyline is "glorified." How do you think that person will feel?  If you are like me, who does glorify the Manhattan skyline, you'll look at that picture with awe, humble admiration, and in my case incredible gratitude that I get to live there.

But what if you look at the same exact skyline and see "vilified." You see the buildings and you perceive greed, competition, selfishness.  How might you feel then?  Most likely, you will experience some type of anger, annoyance, resentment.

How about "gentrified?" If you look at the same exact skyline with the perception of "gentrified," you will most likely experience sadness, regret, victimization,  and hopelessness about the future. 

This is the exact principle that the great Dr. Albert Ellis illustrated in so many of his teachings.  We don't have feelings because of the things around us, we have feelings because of what we tell ourselves about the things around us. You can look around and see a cold hearted horrible world no matter where you are.  Or you can look around and see the miraculous glories that are created and sustained every day.  I know which one of these helps me sleep easier at night.  How about you?

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."

No comments: