The value of your experience lies not in the experience itself, but in your perception of it
“The Eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” – Robertson Davis, “Tempest-Tost”
Whatever you decided your reality is, you are right. It is the perception of your experiences that is your reality, not the experience itself. Also, the external experience is an illusion insofar as it has no bearing on our perception, it is merely there to give us a reference point to experience ourselves, giving us an opportunity to perceive that internal experience. Do we judge it good or bad, or do we simply accept it for what it is? This is the extent of free will that we can determine without involving any belief system, you choose how your perceive your experience and that becomes your reality.
Our perception of current and future experiences are viewed through the lens and filter of our passed experiences. Once we come to the realisation that we can change our perception of our passed experiences and that it then changes how we perceive our current and future reality, we gain an understanding of how we might heal our trauma and core wounds. In psychology, we understand that it isn’t only important to realise “how” we perceive our experiences, but also from where and what level of judgement we put on it.
Carl Rogers talked about the internal and external locus of evaluation, i.e. from what perspective to you evaluate yourself? If we place our perspective of ourselves in how we assume others view us, our perception of our own reality is going to be based on those assumptions. I would here add the locus of detachment where we remove ourselves from the internal experience, often because it is far to painful to hold, and hold a perception from outside our body, as a detached observer. In this latter scenario we also have a skewed perception of our own experience because we are not allowing ourselves to immerse ourselves in it. Our internal locus of evaluation offers up two alternatives; being stuck in our heads or observing from the perspective of our awareness. The former is where most of us are condition to find ourselves; in a reactionary defensive perspective of our reality, i.e. in constant defence mode. When we observe our experiences from the perspective of our awareness, we are in the experience, but we are observing ourselves having the experience and being fully present in it. When our perception of our reality is from the perspective of our awareness we empower ourselves to chose how we perceive and react to the experience as we are experiencing it. We realise that we no long need to be the passenger of our own journey, but that we are in control.
Every time we judge an experience good or bad we set ourselves up to judge another experience through the lens of the previous one; the benchmark keeps evolving. One would think that we’d want to experience “good”, but there are some problems with this. If we judge something as good we inevitably have to judge something that is in contrast to it as bad and if we try to judge what is painful as good, we are avoiding the experience altogether. Also, if we judged something as “good” in our past then we might simply try to re-experience that event, which is impossible because that experience doesn’t exist anymore. As has been said, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”, which is in essence what perception is about. The pain is going to be there, that is unavoidable, but it is your perception and judgement of that pain that will determine the level of suffering. You can in fact experience suffering by avoiding the pain as well, because it will make you feel out of alignment and not whole.
Instead of founding once perception on judgement, it is advisable to practice acceptance, whereas you accept the experience for what it is and seek to experience gratitude and contentment with what you are experiencing. In this process we can then identify, without judgement or attachment, the aspects that need to be healed within ourselves. When healing has taken place we are able to transcend our pain and let life flow through us.
If we are willing, or not, to take have this perception of our reality is a personal choice. So, whatever reality you choose to experience, you are right.