It’s All a Matter of Perception…

If ten people see the same accident and are taken into separate rooms to recount their view, they will give ten different interpretations of the event.  Communication breakdowns occur in relationships because of how each perceives expectations, challenges, and positions. There are two sides to every coin.

Right/Wrong.  Giving/Taking.  Wanting/Needing. Being/Doing.  Where are you?

It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.”  C.W. Leadbeater

In my Fire in Five program and my new book Find Your Fire at Forty: Creating a Joyful Life During the Age of Discontent, step 3 of the 5 step process discusses relationships and the power of perception, intention, and adaptation. 

All human sin seems so much worse in its consequences than in its intentions.”

Reinhold Niebuhr

Throughout our lives people tell us “No”, “You can’t do that”, “That dream’s not possible”, and other limiting statements.  My contention is that most often these people are the ones that are closest to us…and 9 times out of 10 the person discouraging us has the best intentions.  They don’t mean to hurt us.  Many times it’s based upon their own fear or desire for us not to fail.  It is important to come from a place of compassion in these instances.  To understand their intentions are good…but not to allow them to squash your dreams. 

But what if YOU are the dream squasher? 

Has there ever been a time when you were on the other side of the coin?  Have you ever told your child not to do something because it might embarrass you…then realize you inadvertently crushed their originality?  Have you ever told a friend not to call back that guy she liked because you didn’t want to see her hurt?  Ever say “no” and realize “yes” might have been a better option?  Have you ever unintentionally hurt someone?  If the answer is yes, the path to truth and forgiveness is to make amends.

The real fault is to have faults and not to amend them.”


This happened to me recently.  During the creation of my book I was so focused on my process of writing that I made the mistake of not thanking my husband for his support.  Yikes.  Major faux pas.  Certainly not the intention to inflict pain.  But that was the outcome.  So, what do you do??  Make amends.

Here’s what I should have written:

To Marty- thank you for supporting the family; understanding the cathartic process of writing for me; and for putting up with the incessant tap tapping of computer keys in the wee hours of the night.  I appreciate you.

Sometimes you have to forgive and sometimes you have to be forgiven.  Different day, different side of the coin.

So, if you want to improve your relationships, take a step back from your perceptions.  Be compassionate of other’s intentions.  And when you find the mistake is on your part, make amends.

Action Step:  Take a look at your coin and see if you need to forgive another or ask for forgiveness.  Each is liberating and integral to improving your relationships.


About FindYourFire

Writer, speaker, and life coach Heather O'Neill is president of Progressive Image and creator of the Fire in Five program...helping people reconnect and find the joy in their lives.
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