By Arielle Giordano
If several people find themselves in the same situation experiencing the same event, will they all interpret it in the same way? When life happens, we see it through our own eyes in our own way. It is so automatic that sometimes we are not even aware that we are doing it.
It is our world, and the way we see it becomes our reality.
Here is how it unfolds: A life event happens and we perceive it, interpret it, give it meaning, and create/ write a story about it. Then we believe the story. We physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually respond to the narrative. We live our life according to the story. In other words, we make the story real. We integrate “our story” into our lives and into the perception of who we are and how we see ourselves.
The world of perception belongs to the perceiver. The past, culture, beliefs and values influence the ways in which we view and interpret our world. Every person is distinctively unique in the ways of perception. We all perceive our life in unique and exceptional ways. In other words, no one perceives the world in exactly the same way as we do!
Here is a question: Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see someone else’s dilemma, issues, story, past, etc? Of course; but do you realize you are viewing it from your own frame of reference and from your own eyes? You see the situation in your own way—not how the other person sees it.
In an art class I teach, we view, perceive and interpret paintings. We apply critical thinking to a variety of styles, techniques, time periods, and cultures. The artists have their own stories that they are communicating through expression of a creative outlet such as a painting or sculpture. Sometimes, students see the same thing or have similar interpretations and sometimes they do not. Similarly, after perceiving a life event we interpret it. We understand it and say, “Oh, that’s what this means!” or, “Now I know why this keeps happening to me again and again!” Sometimes our stories agree with others’ views, sometimes not.
We put our heart and soul into our belief systems and buy into our own stories. Our stories become our reality.
Our reality is the story of our life and our life is the reality of our story. In other words, we live in the world of the story that we created, not necessarily in the unbiased atmosphere of reality and the life events as they actually occur. The stories become familiar. They become as comfortable as old shoes that we walk in and do not notice anymore.
We believe our stories and then create a life that endorses and reinforces them. If we have a story about how men or women “are” in nature and we strongly believe it to be true, then we will attract people that fit our beliefs. We will also find and surround ourselves with people who support the same beliefs.
Have you ever wondered why the same people, situations and/or relationships are showing up in your life?
Here is a personal experience from my life. My father passed away when I was 13 years old. At that age, my perception was fear, abandonment, and being left alone. Men leave or abandon women became my interpretation. This was a true statement in my world of perception, understanding, interpretation, meaning and belief. This perception became my world of reality. What we put our energy into grows and becomes bigger, whether it is a positive force or a negative one. I found people to support this belief, and for many years I attracted men in my life who I feared would leave or abandon me.
Here is another example. I participated in an “experience” where people became aware of physical discomfort in their bodies and reframed it. We were asked to be quiet for 10 to 15 minutes, breathe and relax, as a facilitator guided us through looking at physical aches/uneasiness/challenges and experiencing them in a new way. We were rewriting our story about physical pain or challenges. At the end, the leader asked: “How many felt a difference after this exercise?” Seventy percent of the people raised their hands!
What does this response level say about the body-mind connection? What does this exercise say about believing our stories and their effect on our bodies, mind, emotions, spirit and well-being?
Think about the following questions: What is one of your life experiences? What is your interpretation of this experience? What is the life that you created from this story?
Now do the following exercise to become aware of how you create your own stories.
1) List a life experience.
2) What is your interpretation/understanding of this experience?
3) What did you make it mean in your world? What does it mean to you?
4) What is the “story” you created about this situation/circumstance/experience/event in your life?
5) Do you believe your story?
6) How does this story/belief affect your life?
7) Describe the ways in which you live your life by this story.
8) Reflect and list the ways you see yourself (self-perception) because of your story.
Here are some ways to step out of your story:
- Review your answers from the questions above.
- Be aware with open eyes, heart, mind, body, soul and spirit as you review your comments above, look at yourself and your actions.
- Be honest with yourself. As much as you would like to believe your story as you wrote it, know the truth is relative because you created it and wrote it.
- Know that your story is just something made up!
- Write down or tell a different and more unbiased truth about what really happened in a particular life event.
- Distinguish the difference between the reality of what actually happened and what the meaning attributed to it.
- Look at how you live your life believing a story and not necessarily the truth about the event/situation.
- Release any negative opinions of yourself or others for writing and creating a story.
- Know that you are not your story.
- Know that you can live the rest of your life in a new space that is true.
- Be okay with everything exactly as it is and that life happens.
- Know that you can be new and different as you review this life event.
- Know that you can see you and your life with new and different eyes.
We all have the opportunity to rewrite our own history and, as we change the stories, and be open to the possibilities of a new you and brighter future.
Arielle Giordano, Masters of Arts, Masters of Education, is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher, facilitator, and published author. From belly dancer and snake charmer to Salsa and Hawaiian Hula, she enjoys sharing her gifts and talents with an authentic style rich in grace in dance, psychology, philosophy and the expressive arts. Arielle is a Lead Faculty Area Chairperson and Faculty Member for College of Humanities at the University of Phoenix. She inspires students with her profound knowledge of Humanities, Art, Psychology and Philosophy. She is a published author of two books and magazine articles. In 2013, she published the Psychology, A Journey, 4th ed. Study Guide. In 2011, she wrote the Barlow Abnormal Psychology 3rded. Instructor’s Manual, and in 2009, Psychology, A Journey 3rded. Study Guide was published by Nelson Education. She has been a guest speaker and interviewed on radio and television. In addition, Arielle has been featured in newspapers and magazines across the United States and Canada. Visit dancingfromtheinsideout.com or email email@example.com.