We often hear the term 'perception is reality' and we quite often accept it without effort to try to connect different perceptions or understand what it really means. The way you perceive and interpret current or future situations are formed because of your previous experiences, formed beliefs and conditioning. Here is an analogy for you to ponder.

It’s like you raise your hand to give someone a high-five and they think you’re trying to slap them in the face. Instead of the other person raising their hand and high-fiving you back, they take a block stance or punch you in the ribs. When all you were trying to do is give them a high-five. In this case you may think – how unjust?

Now the person blocking or punching you in the ribs, the ‘rib puncher’, very well may have experienced a previous situation where they thought someone was giving them a high-five, but that person was actually slapping them in the face. So the trust was broken, interpretation of the high-five actions altered and perceptions formed.

Most people will have these types of experiences where they trusted in another, and their trust was abused, and as a form of protection, they systematically trust no one because of this ‘false high-fiver’ from their past. This is so common in our society and it beckons to be understood in order to bring about compassion, and to build harmonious relationships and connections with others. I affirm this is not to excuse their behaviour - the purpose is to make sense from it.

Are you the 'rib puncher'? The challenge to improving your life is to separate experience from people. Negative situations and the thoughts and emotions experienced in these situations, are often associated and linked to people; created from people in our past, applied to people in our present and feared from people in our future. These experiences, prominently the hurtful emotions felt, are carried in life and when a perceived similar situation presents itself, you may associate past negative emotions and form a link to people that you meet or will meet, when these new people are likely ‘genuine high-fivers’. Your perceptions may tarnish the true intent of these new people based on these past negative experiences. You also may default to previous behaviours and evoke past emotions. When these new people raise their hand to high-five you; you end up punching them in the ribs because of the perceived threat. Now I am not saying don’t be cautious, be wise instead.

What if you have been the one punched in the ribs? When people treat you ‘less than you deserve’, it is an indication of how severely they have been mistreated in their past. And if you can understand this, it allows compassion to fill your heart and kindness to drive your thought, words and actions, opposed to engaging in a battle. It allows for you not to take it personally, and not to react, and not be hurt by these reactions. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” This is ever so true. In this situation, I am not saying stay in the abusive situation, acknowledge the true nature of the situation even if it is from a distance.

Firstly there are no right perceptions, there are just perceptions. Engaging in the battle of perceptions is affirming the perception to the ‘rib puncher’. You are affirming; yes don’t trust anyone because of how one person treated you and you should hold it against every person you meet. And you take away the opportunity for this person to re-gain hope and re-build their trust in people and humanity. You sadly take away that healing opportunity from them. Because when 'history' doesn't repeat itself - they will question why and hopefully start to unravel and heal these dysfunctions. Now put yourself in the shoes of the ‘rib-puncher’. Would you like compassion or someone to affirm your negative experience and that you should be fearful?

This is how the core soul value of compassion is developed. Helping and supporting people opposed to applying pressure to a wound or a bruise that was there before you came along. That said, the only way to align perceptions is to communicate, communicate, communicate. To communicate how all parties interpret and perceive a situation. Sometimes you also have to agree to disagree which is accept differences and not attribute blame. Sometimes you just have to walk away. Though next time you cross paths with someone whose behaviour doesn't 'honour' who you are, please do not take it personally. Instead, separate yourself from the situation, affirm your boundaries if you are guided to, but don’t 'react' in response to something that you had no part to play in.  As Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. And being kind can be in thought, words or actions – up close or from a distance – to others and most importantly to yourself. x

Kasi Kaye Iliopoulos x

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