Perception Correction

Some years ago I saw Ron Kurtz conduct a therapy session with a couple who were having difficulties in their relationship. He asked each one to take turns in describing what was troubling them, and their partner had simply to listen without interrupting.

When each had finished speaking, he asked their partner to state what they had heard - and of course there was a rather large discrepancy between what was actually said and what was being received.

It was a powerful illustration of something that is easy to overlook - the fact that we each live in a world of thought, and our thoughts seem so real to us that the distinction between what is 'out there' and what is 'in here' is often quite blurred.

When I was practicing as a homeopath, I found that the more I already knew about someone, the harder it became to hear what they were telling me in the moment. Many practitioners find it difficult to treat their loved ones for similar reasons.

Sometimes we have too much investment in the outcome and this obscures our perception. Just as often I find that it is everything we think we know about someone that renders us incapable of seeing and hearing them clearly.

My work has now moved into the field of 'perception correction'. What I enjoy is exploring the subtle behind-the-scenes process by which we generate our experience of the world, including the people around us.

I am constantly fascinated at how the world 'out there' becomes a lot less troublesome and more enjoyable place to be as we let go of some of the thinking that contaminates our experience of it.

It is pleasantly surprising to discover that life holds a great many more possibilities than we can presently discern. And, even more surprising, is to realize that what we thought was upsetting us was nothing but a thought.  

 

 

The Shift

One of the common side-effects from learning The Three Principles is that we experience a shift in perspective. Sometimes it is a subtle shift and sometimes it's more dramatic, but the result is the same - we are suddenly able to see things in a new way. It's as if we are looking with fresh eyes and seeing something (or someone) for the very first time.

We often tend to underestimate how valuable it is to have a new perspective on life, and we fail to appreciate how powerfully transformative it can be.

It's worth remembering that in the moment we view life differently, we will experience a different feeling, without anything outside of us having changed. And a different feeling leads us naturally to different ways of responding to life, opening up new possibilities that were literally unavailable to us just a moment earlier.

The beauty of this approach lies in its simplicity. When you begin to see for yourself what is behind all of your feelings, reactions, behaviours and interactions, it relieves you of the burden of having to alter or improve any of these things. Insight itself is the change-agent, and it comes easily and often when you know where to look.

The Past Has No Power

Catching a glimpse of the way your experience of life gets created has many unexpected side-effects, all of them positive as far as I can tell.

One of the most powerful things it can reveal to you is the fact that the past has no power to create your experience of the present. It looks like it has that power, but it's just a great illusion that we all get fooled into believing is real.

Yes, we have all had things happen in the past that were painful or challenging. And yes, we can remember and think about those things on a regular basis, and continue to feel bad as a result.

Whenever you do this, it will look like you are feeling bad as a consequence of what happened previously, when in fact you can only feel bad as a consequence of your present-time thoughts about what happened.

It's very freeing when you realise this fact, because you will understand that it is only thought-in-the-moment that has the power to create feelings. And thought comes and goes, if you let it. 

Paradoxically, It is not our ability to focus our thinking on a painful topic that frees us from it. For the more we think about something painful, the more we experience it as a pain!

Rather, it is our capacity to let painful thoughts go that restores our sanity and peace of mind. When we see that we are not our thoughts, and we are not obliged to take them seriously, we leave the door open for fresh thought to enter.

It's a relief to realise that there is never just one way you're obliged to think about anything. Better still is to know that you don't have to work on changing your thoughts in order to feel better - they change by themselves if left alone. 

The implications of this are huge, not least for the fields of psychology and self-help, and this is what excites me about sharing this understanding with my colleagues in the helping professions. Not only can their work be made a lot easier, it can bring genuine hope and the possibility of deep and lasting change for their clients. 

The Familiar Truth

To many of us, The Three Principles paradigm at first sounds like something deeply familiar, and it is tempting to conclude 'I already know this' and to put our interest somewhere else.

What we often forget is the crucial difference between knowing something as an interesting concept, and realizing it experientially via an insight.

We are all capable of having those 'ah-ha' moments of realization when we suddenly see a possibility that we couldn't see a moment ago, but we often get caught up in a need to figure things out intellectually.

Insight (literally 'a sight from within') is what changes people's lives. Until we see for ourselves what we could be doing differently, no advice or technique will bring about a lasting change. 

Once a realisation occurs to us, no advice or technique is necessary, because we discover that the answers we needed were inside of us already.

Reconnecting to the source of that deeper wisdom that we all have access to brings about a freedom from insecurity and stress and puts us back into the flow of life without any need for struggle or effort on our part.

Insight: The Hidden Treasure

Do you recognise that feeling you have when you just know that you are onto something good? 

That moment when your head clears and you see beyond what you thought was possible just a moment earlier? 

The relief you experience when you realize that everything is going to be just fine, despite your mind's best efforts to convince you otherwise?

We call this insight, and it comes in many different flavours. And really, it doesn't seem like anything to get too excited about. 

But consider this. 

Insight is what changes people. It brings an end to suffering and a change of heart. It creates a new perspective on life. It exposes the lie and reveals the truth. 

Insight restores hope and extinguishes despair. It fosters resilience. It puts you back in touch with your innate wisdom and intelligence. It enables you to forgive and forget. 

If you look back on any of the significant moments in your life, those moments when you broke through to a new level of understanding and awareness, you will see that insight was the catalyst for everything that followed.

Learning to see the value of insight, and recognizing that the capacity for insight exists within every human being without exception reveals the hidden treasure you have at your disposal. 

The Thought-Feeling Connection

You will know from your own experience that on a 'good day', when you feel happy and inspired, you can achieve a huge amount with a minimum of effort. You plough through your list of jobs with ease and still have time to relax and socialize with your family and friends.

On a not so good day, your skill level is exactly the same but your performance and enjoyment levels can change dramatically. You look at your list of jobs, and you feel overwhelmed by the enormity and pressure of it all. You procrastinate and make excuses, creating mountains out of molehills. You distract yourself with trivialities and seem unable to complete anything. You end up feeling tired and disheartened, and the mood stays with you and spoils your evening if you're not careful.

When we have a 'bad day' like this, we tend to look for external reasons why it happened, such as the weather, the influence of other people, our work or home environment, etc. What we forget is that none of those things will disturb us when we're feeling good on the inside. The invisible yet powerful influence that we cannot easily see, but we definitely feel the effects of, is our own thinking.

Thought and feeling are like two sides of the same coin, and they always correspond to each other. It is simply not possible to have inspiring, happy, uplifting thoughts and to be feeling sad, lonely and depressed at the same time. Similarly, it is not possible to be thinking of yourself as a failure or a victim of life and to be simultaneously feeling happy, fulfilled and grateful to be alive.

Anyone who recognizes the unbreakable link between thought and feeling has an immediate and lasting advantage in life which is unavailable to someone who has not yet made that connection. The reason is that you begin to see how your sense of well-being and happiness, your creative and problem-solving abilities, your performance level, communication skills and many other attributes are all being determined by something that is happening on the inside, rather than outside of you.

This is a powerful thing to see, because you will automatically start to align yourself with more positive and life-enhancing ways of being, just as you will automatically start to move away from patterns of negativity and self-sabotage. If you haven't yet realized that your hand is sore because you keep putting it in the fire, you will innocently keep burning yourself over and over again. But once you make the connection, your own common-sense will tell you that keeping your hand out of the fire makes life a lot less painful.

Seeing the thought-feeling connection for yourself is a key aspect of the Three Principles understanding that I share in my workshops and trainings. It might not seem like much, but you'll be amazed at the difference it can make to your life experience.

 

The Healing Power of Not Knowing - Ian Watson

Given my background of a lifelong career in natural health and personal growth, I immediately saw how valuable an understanding of the Three Principles could be for my colleagues working in homeopathy and other helping professions. Not only is it massively reassuring to have something that is universally helpful to fall back on, it is also liberating for the practitioner and empowering for their clients to realize that we can shift the emphasis away from fixing what is wrong with people. Instead, as we begin to genuinely see the well-being that exists within everyone, we evoke both the well-being and the innate wisdom that knows exactly what is needed for a person's growth and healing at any particular moment.

One of the ways that this occurs is that this understanding helps to deepen your listening, and it helps you to get comfortable with not knowing. You start to realize that there are two very different listening modes that you can bring to any conversation. You can listen through the filter of your existing ideas about who this person is and what they might need and what you might have in your box of tricks that could be helpful. Or, you can allow yourself to get quiet and listen with no agenda, no preconceptions, nothing on your mind. You can put what you already know to one side and get deeply present.

And you discover that when you do this, the person you are with has a tendency to relax into a deeper, wiser place within themselves, and a beautiful and surprising thing happens as a result. They start to have insights, and they suddenly see things they hadn’t seen before. New possibilities literally emerge out of nowhere, and they bring an uplifting energy to the room.

In short, the client begins to find their own answers, which means you don’t have to do that on their behalf. You’re off the hook! You are relieved of the burden of responsibility that you had been carrying - the need to know the answers and get it right, having to be the ‘expert’, wanting to fix things and make everything okay. All of that begins to fall away, and in the space that gets created a whole host of self-healing possibilities arises all by itself.

Invariably, it takes you by surprise, because it will include possibilities that you couldn’t even have imagined just a moment ago. And so you learn things that you didn’t already know, and it humbles you because you realize that in this moment you are now the student and your client is the teacher. And in the next moment it could be the other way round, because you will have insights too and you will learn to trust what comes to you in that quiet emptiness.

And then, it may occur to you that wisdom itself is the real teacher, and we are all students and we can all discover amazing and beautiful things whenever we are willing to trust in the unknown and get fully present and really listen.