Perceptions, Expectations and Perceptions

I suddenly have a million dollars: should I laugh or should I cry?

That all depends. If you had a billion dollars and your net worth was suddenly reduced to a million, you would be pretty pissed off. But if you had a hundred dollars and your net worth suddenly increased to a million, chances are you won’t complain. So what exactly is the difference between a million dollars and a million dollars (no typo here!)? Read on to find out.


Expectations, perceptions… perceptions, expectations… Where is the truth?

In the last 4-5 months I had to learn how to use my left arm for things I used to do with my right arm. I also learned to ask for help. I still have my right arm. It just became a bit dysfunctional as a result of a shoulder injury that I initially didn’t think much of. But as time passed by my arm got more and more stuck, the pain increased, and my frustration increased as well. I reached the point of tears, which was all good. When you hit the bottom, you know it’s time to start climbing back up.

And that’s when I had my epiphany. What if, I asked myself, I didn’t have either arm, and then the technological advancement reached such levels that I could have one arm, fully functional? How would I feel being able to use one arm (after having no arms at all)? Of course I would be ecstatic. There is no doubt about that! Well, in that hypothetical state that I would be ecstatic about, I would in fact be worse off compared to the state I am already in and being miserable about. In reality I have two arms – one of them functions fully, and the other one functions somewhat (but will get better according to all of my therapists).

So then, I continue my reasoning, there is nothing about the situation I am in that is inherently frustrating. If the situation was frustrating in and of itself, I would be feeling the same level of frustration in the hypothetical situation where I end up with the use of one arm after having no arms at all. But I am not feeling frustrated in that scenario, so my frustration has nothing to do with the situation per se. It comes from my expectations. I expect to be able to use both arms but I can only use one. It frustrates me. If I didn’t have arms and then got one, I am totally fine with using one arm.

My conclusions are inescapable: Firstly, my expectations shape my perceptions. And secondly, to change my perception and I need to change my perspective.

How accurate are your perceptions? And how much of them are shaped by your expectations and have little to do with reality? The bad news is, perceptions are never accurate, that’s why we call them perceptions (otherwise we would be calling them facts). The good news is, you can change your perceptions by examining your expectations and changing your perspective. Expect the unexpected! Release all attachments to “successful” outcomes. You are here, that’s already a success. Everything else is a bonus. Including the one million dollars.

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