“When we become fixed in our perceptions we lose our ability to fly.” – Mingyur Rinpoche
How a person looks at the world colors all subsequent action. If the way immediately ahead appears dark and scary, timidity and reluctance to act are the likely results. Being able to discern light amidst the darkness, however, can prove to be a motivating factor – at least to the extent that you’re willing to try something new or different.
What happens when you regard life and the world around you as hopeless, miserable, one failure after another, untrustworthy, unlovable and unloved? You might find yourself retreating from others, holing up in isolation, drinking or drugging too much. You most certainly won’t want to embark on a challenging project, pursue adventure, or dare to discover what you’re truly made of.
Indeed, if your perception remains fixed, so will your horizon. Instead of expanding, the options available to you will appear limited, possibly pointless and a waste of time.
So much for the ability to fly.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to stand up to first impressions and attempt to see the other side, there’s hope that you can move forward – no matter what obstacles you encounter. It won’t be easy to try to glean some insight that isn’t readily apparent and it may not happen every time. Still, the effort is worth it if the result is that you can bypass the logjam where preconceived notions have held you captive. You want to be able to act, not stagnate doing nothing.
How do you become flexible with your perceptions? Is there some trick to this that you can master? As with anything that’s challenging, scary or new, a multi-pronged approach is generally the best one. Be sure to include the following:
- Recognize that there is always another way to look at things. There is no one way and situations are never totally negative – no matter how they appear at first.
- Be willing to change your point of view in the presence of new information. Even be willing to explore opposite viewpoints with the hope of learning something new. Whether you ultimately change your outlook or not, you’re exercising flexibility instead of remaining rigid and fixed in your perceptions.
- Engage in brainstorming. Coming up with alternate solutions is an exercise in creativity. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your total approach will change, but it may result in a modification or revision of a plan that will culminate in success.
- Study what worked well for others. Undoubtedly, this isn’t the first time such a wall has appeared before you. Others have probably experienced something similar. By reviewing the solutions that worked for someone you know or read about, you might learn a thing or two that will help you modify your own perspective – and arrive at some answers applicable to your situation.
- Never give up. Maybe it seems too difficult to be open and flexible with your perceptions. That’s OK. Just give it time. Acknowledge the challenge and keep on trying to see things in another light. Determination and persistence will help you adopt the ability to be flexible. Think of it as a bird’s fledgling attempts to fly. The winged creature doesn’t succeed the first time out, but with time and practice, the act becomes second nature.
- Flexibility is like a muscle: exercise it. The more you practice being flexible, the easier it gets. This applies as much to perceptions as toning muscles on your body. Get into the habit of keeping a flexible, open mind and your perceptions will change.
Keep in mind that the life you want to live depends on having the courage and willingness to embrace change, to challenge yourself to do more, and to let go of outdated beliefs and perceptions. The potential benefits to doing so are incalculable. It’s up to you to decide how you want to live.
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