We don’t see things as they are,
we see them as we are.
- Anais Nin
Ever notice the way your external environment often mirrors your internal one? Like when you're frustrated you're running late for an appointment and nearly every traffic light is red? Then, when you're not in a rush, almost every light happens to be green. Could your outer world be a reflection of your inner one?
When I finally grasped this paradigm it was a Big Aha; a turning point on my life’s path. That our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and judgments can actually create our reality is no small revelation! In fact, it can alter our perception of the Universe in ways that enliven and empower us. Let me give you an example.
I grew up in an abusive environment. For decades I behaved like a typical victim, holding onto my anger at my parents, blaming them for everything "wrong" in my life, acting out my pain in ways that often hurt myself and others. When I made the connection, as it is within us, so it is without, my heart attitude changed dramatically. I began to take responsibility for my circumstances rather than point the finger outward at others. I discovered the freedom in forgiveness. I came to know the innate capacity each one of us has to change the way we perceive events, people, concepts…all of life.
Shifting our lives from helpless and hopeless to one of empowerment and positivity requires an intentional heart. To let go of harmful perspectives and replace them with beneficial ones is an option that’s always open to us. Like I tell some of my therapy clients, "You and only you are in charge of your thoughts. No one is pointing a gun at your head telling you how to perceive your situation."
Holding onto our stinkin' thinkin' is a choice, which more often than not results in unwanted consequences. Ones that show up in our relationships, our work, our daily existence to derail our deepest desires and goals, even thwart our life's purpose.
It might not be evident to us immediately, but the effects of our thought-life eventually catch up with us. Usually that’s the time when people enter therapy. They can’t understand why their connections and partnerships keep unraveling, why happiness and success continue to elude them. Dealing with their old ways of thinking, usually rooted in childhood, helps them awaken to the power of their perspectives. Since I once was stuck in past programs, too, I know how crucial it is to become aware of our thoughts and make the commitment to choose them wisely.
Yet even with the best intentions, there are times when doubts, presumptions and judgments will pop to mind without warning. Like intrusive ads on the Internet, they divert us from our objectives and the next thing we know we’re someplace we don’t want to be. Now, when I find myself caught in an old program of detrimental thinking, I ask myself the following question: "Is this loving?" An internal "No!” presents me with a choice: I can shift my thoughts or I can continue in a negative frame of mind. But why would I choose the second option for myself? Especially knowing that when my heart is open and loving, the Universe opens to me.
Like a mirror, it offers me a reflection of my internal attitudes. When I’m in a compassionate frame of mind toward myself and others, I find that people are helpful and kind; a project I’ve been struggling with proceeds easily; a difficult decision suddenly becomes simple. My entire day seems welcoming, effortless, even serendipitous. As it is within us, so it is without.
The way I respond to the events continually unfolding around me will create my reality. If I’m feeling like a victim of my circumstances, blaming the current insanity of the world for my problems, staying stuck in a resentful frame of mind toward anyone or anything, then my reality won’t be much fun—will it?
By taking charge of my thought-life, I can decide to respond differently to life’s events and create a different reality for myself. Especially when I choose to be an expression of love: the very response that expands our inner and outer Universe in profound ways.
When we decide to perceive our world from a bigger perspective, rather than our own narrow one, we get to see what’s possible, not just for us, but for all mankind. From a Big Picture perspective we also get to see that everything in life, even our pain and disappointment, is a lesson about loving ourselves and others.
So, the next time circumstances in your environment seem to be frustrating your agenda, why not take a look at your inner state of being? If you'd like to make changes to your circumstances, start by shifting the way you perceive them, opening your heart to a reality that is compassionate versus unkind, expansive versus limiting, accepting versus divisive. In the case of traffic lights impeding your progress, rather than cursing at them, or beating yourself up for running late, you might tell yourself: “I did the best I could under the circumstances.” Or, “I’m leaving earlier next time so I won’t have to rush.”
Easier said than done, you say? I hear you. I also dare you to give it a try. It will cost you nothing but the energy it takes to become aware of your thought-life…then choose to adopt a loving perspective. All you’ve got to lose is everything standing in the way of expanding your possibilities and creating the reality you desire.
Go on, take the dare! Discover for yourself that there is no separation between the Universe within and the Universe without.