While I was in college, I had a professor whose mantra was "perception is reality." Nearly all of the lessons he taught us came back to this simple truth. I had a recent run-in with this idea in my own reality that I thought I should share in case someone else has the same problem I had.
Over the past year, I have dealt with many hardships. My husband has lost his job 4 (yes, FOUR) times in the past 12 months, and now is working for only $9 per hour to support our family of 5, so finances have been front and center in my mind for a year now. In addition to that, I was cited in October for driving without proof of insurance, and was sentenced to a $900 fine, 40 days in jail, and a suspended driver's license. My only break was that the judge suspended $500 of the fine and the jail time upon my meeting all the conditions of my 1-year probation. This left me feeling helpless and picked on since my only crime was in being too poor to pay the car insurance bill. Add to this unresolved issues from a year ago where my mother-in-law came to my home, accused my husband of unspeakable (and untrue) atrocities, and then proceeded to attack me about it online, going so far as to threaten us with having the police take away our children (for which I consulted a lawyer, who said she didn't have a leg to stand on), and you can imagine the negative feelings that were building up inside of me.
Yesterday I hit a low point. I was in the shower, thinking about Thanksgiving, and all of the negativity finally boiled over. I found myself in tears, unable to function, believing all of those voices that I've heard from others over the past year who have told me that I'm a no-good, lazy, indecent, stupid, heathen criminal who is going to Hell, who is unworthy of time or help, and who basically doesn't deserve the air that I breathe. I perceived all of these to be correct. How could they not be? They had been spoken by bishops, by family, and by the criminal justice system.
I put out an unusual status message (for me) on Facebook relating my perception, and the response was overwhelming in the other direction. I was reminded that I am a strong, loved, supported individual with a good education and a loving family, and that while I've been going through some hard times, they do not reflect on who I am and have no bearing on my reality. I was counseled to look deep within myself, to where my own reality resides, and when I did so, I found that inner strength that they were assuring me was there.
Deep within myself, I am a warrior--a defender of family and self who has thick armor and a just heart. I am supremely compassionate and will nearly always put others before myself. I am a wise sage, both by learned knowledge from my educational background and by acquired knowledge from my (not always pleasant) life experiences. I love deeply, serve selflessly, and defend what I know to be right and true. This is my reality.
It was an eye-opener to see just how perception can cloud reality and how the two can be so entirely different. I am so grateful to have family and friends who can see beyond the fog and remind me that my inner vision is so perfectly clear that the reality can overcome the perception.