Sometimes people get stuck in cause and effect. We assume other, external factors are responsible for our life conditions. We are each solely responsible for the way we experience life. This constant truth can empower us all, if we let it.
We are all meaning making machines. We experience an event, give it a meaning, and experience an emotion as a result. This in turn influences our future perceptions and interpretations. Nothing happens in isolation.
Life is always lived from the inside out. Events and life experiences are always unique because of the meanings or labels we assign to events. Cognitive bias is always at work. Our perception of reality is not truth.
Let me say that again. Your perception of reality is not truth. My perception of reality is not truth. We are always filtering the huge amounts of imformation coming at us through deletions, distortions, generalizations and personalizations.
I can experience getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, and so can you. However, each of us always, and can only, experience our own perceptions, and each of us will give our own meaning to that experience.
Let me dig into that example for a second because it can help illustrate the difference between a fact and an interpretation. If we get caught out in the rain without an umbrella, we’ll get wet. That’s a fact. Maybe one or the other of us will think that we’re unlucky. That’s an interpretation. Maybe one or the other of us will think, “Of course it rained because this shit always happens to me.”That’s an interpretation again. Often our interpretations happen outside of our conscious awareness.
We constantly assign meaning to all life events consciously or unconsciously. People assign meanings to things, and these meanings are personal interpretations based on past experiences, social norms, etc. Interpretations are not facts. The meanings assumptions and conclusions we draw can be a million miles away from what others intend.
If our perception of reality is not truth, then it follows that our interpretations, the meanings we give to things, are also not truth. When we remember this, it makes it easier to get out of our own perspective, and see things from a different viewpoint.
Getting stuck in your own viewpoint can lead to diasgreements and anger. It’s common to judge ourselveves by our intentions, and others by their actions. I believe most people are doing the best they can do most of the time. We can only know what another person means if we ask them. It’s better to ask than to jump to conclusions.
Thoughts lead to feelings which lead to actions, and all of these things become our results. The quality of our thinking is directly related to the quality of our life. We should choose our thoughts carefully.
Empowerment comes from taking responsibility for our feelings and actions regarding outside events. This can spur us to be emotional and react based on our negative feelings. Or, we can take a break, and come back to the experience with a more balanced perspective. When a bad thought pops into our head, we can choose to shift our focus.
The quality of our life is also directly related to the quality of the relationships we maintain. We cannot control what other people do, say and think. We can only take responsibility for how we respond, and react, to it external life events. Each of us can manage and control what we do, say, think and feel.
Taking ownership of our inner experience is crucial to living an empowered, resourceful life. We can become more aware, and this awareness will break us out of the rut we can fall into. Responsibility is a benchmark of maturity.