Perception and reality

I watched with sadness the news about yet another school shooting–and the tragedy that has touched so many lives.

The reasons behind the shooting are as yet unknown…and may never be truly understood. What has come out so far is that the young man who appears to have been the shooter had a troubled family life and–apparently–seems to have felt bullied in some ways.

I watched some of the students who knew him last night say that while he was a quiet young man, they weren’t aware of any bullying that took place…any overt bullying. But he was a quiet boy, seemingly on the outside looking in.

I wonder, though… Other students may not have been aware of any bullying, but if he perceived how he was being treated as bullying and non-acceptance–whether at school or at home–then his reality was that he was being bullied.

Perception and reality aren’t always the same thing–at least, not as we see them. But one’s perception is one’s reality, and we ignore that at our peril.

There seem to have been some warning signs that were missed…missed, perhaps, because his schoolmates and teachers saw him one way and couldn’t correlate the warning signs with the person they thought they knew.

It’s time for us to take a close look at ourselves…perhaps time to ask someone else for feedback. How do we come across in our treatment of those who don’t quite fit into our groups, our communities? Do we leave them on the outside, wishing they could be in but uncertain how to get there? Or do we draw them in?

It’s not just our kids that need to do this. We all do…in our families, our workplaces, our churches…

Perception and reality…do they mesh? Or are we looking in a fun-house mirror, seeing distorted images? Imagining we are interacting in one way but being perceived in a totally different way?

We do not see things as they are.
We see them as we are.

~ The Talmud ~

The way we view things is really only a reflection of our self beliefs, and not necessarily ‘how it really is’.  Dr. Phil puts it this way, “There is no reality – only perception”.

We all create the world around us by our thoughts and beliefs, and our perceptions of events (and of ourselves) determine how we experience life.  If we believe that life is gloomy, then we will perceive gloom in events and by that perception we have drawn gloom into our lives and gloom is what we then ‘experience.

“A hostile person lives in a hostile world,
A loving person lives in a loving world.”

We only need to look at a situation from a different angle, or from another’s point of view, (or see the ‘bigger’ picture), and that can totallychange our experience of life and its myriad of events.

May we work together to make a world that all people can see as a loving world. Our continued existence depends on it.

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