I have a confession to make.
I used to be a victim big time.
I used to blame everybody else for my perceived “stress” in my life.
My wife and her dramas, my 4 children and their issues, my bosses over the years and their unrealistic demands on my time, my work colleagues and their problems, my clients and their deadlines, the driver who cut me off, the other people in front of me in the shopping queue… don’t they realise who I am!
As I was lying in the hospital bed at John Flynn Hospital on the Gold Coast in 1999 thinking I was dying from a heart attack and having all the typical symptoms (I call this episode my “second near death experience”) I had an epiphany, a major light bulb moment.
I realised I’m doing this myself.
I realised I needed to change my perspective.
I realised that it’s not what happens to me that matters it’s how I react to what happens to me that matters.
I realised it’s my perception of what happens to me that matters.
Those two days in hospital changed my life.
I look back now and am so grateful for having that “near death experience” and what was the scariest night of my life.
I now know through my ongoing studies, research and teachings that what I realised and sensed intuitively that night is true for all of us today and now backed up by many scientific studies.
William James, often regarded as the founder of modern psychology and the first teacher of modern psychology in the USA made his greatest discovery in the early 1900’s and this is what still holds true today and is supported by all the latest in neuroscience, neuroplasticity and epigenetics and it is this:
“Bodily changes (physiologically) follow directly the “perception” of the thing”.
So it starts with our “perception” of the thing, person or event and it’s our choice (though we sometimes in our reactive state don’t realise it) how we perceive things.
We often have a one-sided or imbalanced perception or an incomplete awareness of what is actually happening.
Recent studies even suggest that how we perceive stress in our lives will have a massive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Watch Kelly McGonigal’s Ted talk titled “How to Make Stress Your Friend” for some fascinating research on this topic and how if we perceive stress as bad for us it will be, versus if we perceive it as necessary to our life and to make us grow the outcome will be totally different.
I start every day sitting in silence in a mindful meditation settling the mind like a snow globe. This was the subject of a Ted talk I did two years ago and the benefits I’ve received from doing this for almost 20 years now.
I’ve learnt in the last few years from Dr John Demartini’s work that to grow we need both support and challenge, there is good stress and bad stress. To quote John “If we don’t fill our day with things that inspire us it will fill up with things that don’t”.
I’ve learnt the hard way to change my perception of what’s happening in my life and I’m still learning.