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We’re All Walking In A Grand Illusion

I often have to remind myself that each of us is walking in the smoke of grand illusions, illusions that are molded by our individual perceptions. Reality is however we interpret it and is often shaped by experiences so unique to us that they could never be replicated in exactly the same way in someone else. That means we’re all watching different movies, despite truly believing we’re watching the same one.

Knowing this to be true, how can we take anything personally, especially when it comes to the ruthless opinions of others? More often than not, we’re acting from hand-me-down belief systems and seeing the world via tinted lenses, thanks to a lifetime of societal conditioning. We make decisions based on what a funhouse mirror reflects back to us and never stop to question if the image is true. If someone tells you that you’re broken beyond repair, when they’ve never known hardship, don’t allow their words to migrate to your core. They’re seeing a different movie than you, one where they’ve never needed to recover from any catastrophic event and therefore have limited capacity for understanding the healing journey. It would be pointless to waste time explaining when you’re seeing two vastly different plots unfold.

It is our duty not to allow the compact views of others to interfere with the perceptions we have of ourselves. Likewise, we must be wary of our distorted perceptions, both of ourselves and of others. That person who once called us unrepairable is not the dunce our mind manipulates them to be, and the way we respond to such criticism says more about us than it does them. If we raise our weapons with haste, what does this say about the story we’re telling? How will this make the other person feel and then likely make us feel in exchange?  What a useless battle we fight with one another. His thoughtless comment triggers her deep-seated insecurities, and then both sides release a rapid-fire of insults and further deepen one another’s wounds.

It’s the same as when a woman’s husband tells her, “You look ravishing today,” and she responds, “Oh, so I don’t look ravishing every other day?” The wife’s perception of the situation might be based on her past experiences of being unseen as a child, which then resulted in her having severely diminished self-esteem. Perhaps she also felt unappreciated in her marriage, and the movie she’s watching is one where she’s not the beauty queen she was in high school. Any comment about her looks would then be filtered through her tinted lenses and she would respond accordingly. For all we know, the husband’s movie is one where he can’t do anything right no matter how hard he tries. He may feel like he’s the only one putting effort into his marriage and that any attempt at salvaging it is being swatted away. Imagine how this skewed outlook might provoke a fatal fire between the two.

We manipulate the information we are given to match it with our beliefs. This is a fact, but we rarely notice when we’re doing it. Of course, to make every human cognizant of their own illusions would be an impossible task. There is far too much denial in the world. But if a select few of us could think twice about the meaning behind someone else’s words and rather than take it to heart, take it as an opportunity for growth, imagine how rapidly those good vibrations would spread. We wouldn’t be teasing triggers or stockpiling bad tensions. We’d be enhancing our abilities to see outside ourselves and into someone else to the point where hostility would be choked out of existence, leaving room for nothing but compassion.

You’re not broken beyond repair. But it is possible that you believe that to be true about yourself, and that is why those words sliced through you. Healing always starts with acknowledgment. There is no way to cut corners.

Accept that humans are meant to be a beautiful compilation of scar tissue and emotional triggers and that although our circumstances are not always within our control, our responses always are.

About the author
Fluent storyteller, memoirist and lover of prose poetry Follow Valerie on Instagram or read more articles from Valerie on Thought Catalog.

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