A Matter of Perception

We have all heard the saying that life is what you make it but many people do not realize that the way they perceive things plays a major role. I read a story once about a man who decided to test his young niece with the half glass of water to see if she was an optimist or a pessimist. The Uncle set the glass in front of her and asked if it was half empty or half full? The girl answered that it would depend on whether you were pouring it (half full) or drinking it (half empty). And with that same line of thought comes the question of whether or not each one of us sees our own glass as half full or half empty.

Many of us set our own limitations without realizing it. Each time we come up against a challenge we have the choice to give up because it is too hard, or forge ahead and blow our old boundaries right out of the water. People who do not push their boundaries get stuck in ruts and miss out on a lot of what life has to offer. We also end up cheating ourselves out of a lot of personal and spiritual growth. Problems are only challenges waiting to give us the golden opportunity to better ourselves.

Dealing with other people can be a real challenge sometimes. As a rule of thumb I try to deal with harsh people harshly, and gentle people gently. I have already learned through past experience that it does not work at all to try to deal with harsh people gently or gentle people harshly. I do not like confrontations at all, never have and never will. But we all have those times when we can no longer be silent and must speak up and be heard. Using your words is very important. This complicates things further for HD people because one of many of the abilities we lose is the ability to use our words. They say it is like our dictionary shrinks a little bit more every day.

Even though it turned out to be a very controversial movie there were a lot of hidden messages about people’s perceptions in the movie Shallow Hal. There is a womanizer who gets “cursed” with the ability to not be able to see anything but a person’s inner self. He falls in love with a woman he meets and he sees her as a knock out while all his friends see a very large woman. His friends think he is completely losing it. He meets a lot of people along the way. The mean people in this movie looked beautiful on the outside but he saw those people as very unattractive and ugly because he saw their inner self reflected when he looked a t them. And the men and women who looked plainer on the outside he saw as extremely handsome and beautiful.

This movie struck a note with me for several reasons. I had already noticed in my own life that some times people I thought of as attractive became less attractive the more I got to know them. And other people who looked more attractive to me the more I got to know them. Strange thing is that they did not change; I just saw them differently because my perception evolved. It would sure save us all a lot of grief if we could have the power to see inside people like that. It becomes obvious why it is so important to not judge a book by its cover.

I have heard it said that you can never strongly like or dislike anything about another person that you do not already really like or dislike about yourself. When I first came across that little tidbit I went HUH? Then I realized how true it was. The things that I am accepting of and like within myself I would by extension like in another person. By the same logic if there was something that really annoyed me about myself then someone else with that same habit would really annoy me and lean on a nerve.

Where ever you think you are, is where you are. And when it comes to comparing our troubles to others a wise person once said “if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw every one else’s, we’d grab ours back.” Once again perception is paramount. For example when people spend their money some people see $100.00 as being cheap and others see that same $100.00 as being too expensive. It also explains why ten people can witness the same accident and tell ten different versions of it.

I think we are all an accumulation of our individual life experience and that is why perceptions can vary so much. While we can have a lot in common with other people and be able to relate to them with some shared life experiences we have still each walked a different path just the same. This variety is a good thing though because it keeps life interesting. It would be a very boring world if every one was just like us, that is what makes it so cool to be able to embrace the differences between us. I recently received an email that I would like to pass on, it went:


One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between the two wolves in each of us.”

“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about if for a minute and then asked his grandfather “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied “The one you feed.”

I am certain we all know at least a few people who have been feeding the wrong wolf for years. There are also some bad wolves out there that are less obvious and have become the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. And then there are also those of us who are foolish enough to seek the bad wolves out thinking we are going to tame them. These are the same people who are somehow surprised when instead they get bit for their troubles. Wild things are always going to be unpredictable because they are always going to be part wild, it is their nature.

Like many of you out there I am trying to become all that I can be. I have been a work in progress for many years, but perfection is not my goal, personal growth is. If we can turn our problems around by seeing them as opportunities for personal growth instead of running away from them we will be so much further ahead. Remember that every time you stick your neck out that you are still moving forward. And every time you do not quit, you win.

I have often wondered how people perceive me when they interact with me. My perceptions of myself are always going to be slanted. The same is true of disagreements; there are always three sides to them. There is his side, her side, and what really happened. It’s the law of the jungle. Human nature is such a strange beast.

Perception is so important to a person with HD because without it you can mistakenly believe that some one close to you that you trust is suddenly out to get you. Paranoia can really play games with a person’s security, and many HD people turn against their family members for no apparent reason. For people living with HD knowing in advance that their perceptions and judgments are going to go sideways some day does not mean that we are going to recognize it for what it is when it comes to pass.

Whether we perceive ourselves as “living with HD” or “dying of HD”, either way we will be right.