I decided to define the below terms for my own understanding and in doing so I wanted to share because I know I am not alone and others will relate. Beyond the definitions are my reflections on what these words mean when I apply them to how I think and act. I hope sharing my thoughts will help you desire to better understand yourself and others with love and acceptance. I truly believe if we all do this the world would be a kinder place and we as a whole would experience more joy.
Perception: to perceive (apprehend through sight, observe, apprehend through the mind, understand); the ability of the mind to refer sensory information to an external object as its cause; the intuitive recognition of the truth
Projection: a mental image image or preoccupation viewed as an objective reality; the unconscious transfer of one’s own impressions or feelings to external objects or persons.
Perspective: a mental view of the relative importance of things.
Observation: the act of noticing (observe-to watch carefully)
Judgment: the critical faculty, discernment; good sense, opinion, criticism
Discernment: having or showing good judgment or insight
Opinion: a belief or assessment based on grounds short of proof; what one thinks on a particular topic; a formal statement of professional advice.
Objective: external to the mind, real; dealing with outward things or exhibiting facts uncolored by feelings or opinions
Subjective: a person’s views; proceeding from personal idiosyncrasy or individuality, not impartial or literal
Intention: purpose (reason for acting)
Note: All of these definitions were taken from the Oxford American Dictionary.
I started this specific blog over a year ago as I questioned the difference between what is a judgement and what is an observation. I was seeking clarity, a better understanding of myself, because I know I can be judgmental, critical and tend to have high expectations of myself and others. As I revisit this unpublished post, I think I viewed judgmental as a negative, when in fact using judgement (which can also be discernment) is healthy and wise. I also think I maybe confusing “judgmental” with “opinionated” and I may not be alone. Maybe my opinions at times turn to negative judgements and that is where I can be hurtful and labeled judgmental or critical with a negative reference. To use “better judgement” is wise when choosing my own way. However, to criticize or judge another for how they live their life, while I am free to think and feel how I choose, is potentially harmful and can be devastating to my relationships. It can be difficult at times to accept differences of all kinds and in those times I need to remember I too am free to live my life how I choose.
There are exceptions of course when dealing with abuse and any act that hurts someone or something. Those exceptions aside, acceptance is the first step towards understanding differences and learning to be okay with them. This does not mean I must agree or that I have to change. To accept people, ideas, beliefs, actions, thoughts or feelings, anything different from what I think/feel is “right” is not an easy practice which is why I am here, reflecting and revising my own perspective. My current perception is that we as a whole seem to focus more on our differences and that limits us and those around us. We close our minds and hearts, thinking our way is the only way. When we encounter people like this we typically become defensive and we no longer want to listen and understand their views or actions. Instead we focus on changing the other person, be it their beliefs or way of living and this goes back and forth, each party defending their way and trying to change the other.
I have also learned to consider perception and perspective and just how many different ways individuals can perceive the very same situation. So as I sit in observation of some thing I will likely see, hear, feel and describe it somewhat differently than the person next to me. So an observation is our sensory experience of the information coming in, it’s that simple and it’s subjective (it’s not fact, it’s filtered through our personal viewpoint). From my observation I may have thoughts, feelings, the desire or need to act or I may be indifferent. I may then go on to transfer my thoughts and feelings onto another and not even realize what I am doing isn’t about them, but about me. The other person maybe a mirror reflecting back at me, my “stuff”, it’s not about them, often times it’s about what is going on inside of me. Therefore I need to focus not on improving the other person, but on how I can better improve myself. It is very simple, yet one of my greatest challenges, I have control over ONE thing, ME! That’s it. I may have influence over others, but no power to change them. From here I can begin to shift my perceptions and perspectives in a healthier, positive direction. That in turn will benefit everyone and free me from the emotional and mental burden I carry when I direct my efforts and energy towards changing others instead of myself. When I put energy into changes others it is wasted and more and more I value my energy and I need it.
In all of this I am attempting to make my life easier because when I focus on differences I can get stuck. When I get stuck I am less likely to compromise, forgive, let go, move on or find a solution to a problem, BIG or small. For this reason I am intentionally directing my efforts on learning to understand myself better, through yoga, my spiritual beliefs, seeking wise counsel from trusted and knowledgeable people, writing, sharing, reading, meditation and prayer. My hope is when I have a better understanding of Cortney that will translate out into the world and help me understand and accept others. When I can do this, the struggle, the fight and the desire to change others will disappear and be replaced with true acceptance and unconditional love. I can then better direct my energy and efforts to what is most meaningful to me: my relationship with God, my family and friends, animals, serving those around me, my work and leaving those around me feeling better.
As I turn my attention inward and begin to focus on self improvement I gain clarity in every aspect of my life: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I gain a better understanding of who I am, what I value, what I will accept is okay and what I won’t (and then I learn to set boundaries and that conversation will have to wait for now, but rest assured there is an abundance of information out there on boundaries). I then begin to discern my true intentions for my actions, are those intentions pure and good or selfish and manipulative? Like it or not, life is in a constant state of change. I can choose to change for the better and see the world around me change for the better or not. I can choose to trust God has a plan for me and for you and that He made us all different for a reason. The sooner I whole heartily accept this the easier my life will be and for anyone reading this, if you relate, the same is true for you as well.