As I get older, the more I realize life is all about perception. For all of us – there will be good and bad experiences that are beyond our control. However, what is always within our control is how we perceive experiences and ourselves. Perception is powerful, and it can lead to producing the types of experiences we want in life. Stephen Covey indicated that “all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.” I believe this is a reciprocal relationship: Who we are shapes how we view the world, and how we view the world shapes who we are. When we are stuck in a cycle of negative relationship experiences, the full culmination of who we are in our relationships is a hard thing to change. However, the low hanging fruit is building the capacity to change how we view relationships and how we view ourselves in relationships.
When a new edition of a textbook is released, most of the content is the same, however, there are important updates that have enriched the book to ensure the content is relevant and applicable to contemporary issues associated with the subject matter. I also believe that we can revise and update the narrative on less than optimal relationship experiences in order to approach our current relationships informed with the most helpful perspective on our past. Yes, you are unable to change your past relationship experiences, but there are some things that you can rewrite. There are some mental updates that you can make that will help you create relationship experiences that are more aligned with your relationship goals. The route to obtaining those goals starts with you. You have to see it in your mind first. You have to adjust your thoughts on your past relationship experiences – your mistakes, things that didn’t seem to go your way at the time, etc. The reason why I say things that didn’t seem to go your way at the time is because you can rewrite your perception on that experience and that updated material not only enhances the story of your love life, but it also enhances you as a person. With this updated mentality, you can approach your love life differently – proactively, positively and with your best self.
I’ll be transparent, I know what it is like to have a relationship experience that you are ashamed of, an experience that you believe you may never recover. It was six years ago – there I was planning a beautiful wedding with my fiancé and family, and an unexpected turn of events occurred. I ordered the dress, we tasted food samples, and we picked out the venue…then BOOM! We recognized that our life goals were not in alignment and we got caught up in the process of getting married instead of thinking critically about building our lives together. Through the assistance of premarital counseling, we realized that were weren’t the best fit for one another and decided to end our engagement. The feelings of shame, hurt, disappointment and guilt were the overriding themes of that experience. However, in the back of my mind, I had a counter theme to that story line – the belief that things were truly meant to work out the way that they did. The belief that God used that experience as a protection for the both of us. The belief that I would get married and was worthy of love. Eventually, the positive spin that I had on that experience became the dominant theme. That spin served as the foundation for the development of a healthy relationship with my husband, Ronnie! From calling me on accident one day to becoming my husband – that’s a whole story within itself – I experienced the power of perception at work in my own life. So I ask: What do you want the new edition of your love life to look like? What are the updates you could make that would enhance the quality of the story and yourself in the process? How your story began and the challenges you went through – those things don’t make your story bad – they add a richness to your experience. The quality of the new edition of your love story depends on the quality of your updates; the one element you can change about your story is your perception. What truly matters is how you see your love story. Do the mental updates to your story highlight a journey that will inevitably lead you to a hopeful, expected ending? The pen is in your hand.