Are You Inside Out? How Perception Affects Emotion
By Eleanor Collins
Recognizing that there is a relationship between perception and emotion allows us to have greater control over our lives and to be more focused and happy.
All perception, judgment and thought produces an emotional response in our bodies.
Being aware of or monitoring emotional responses is not something that we normally do, simply because we have not been taught. As a general trend, westerners look at the world from the outside-in. We see events happening and view them as going on outside of ourselves, when in reality anything that we perceive is happening in our own minds and having a direct effect on our emotional state. If we are not aware of this, we watch the news, read the papers, converse with friends while being oblivious to how these situations affect us. The trouble with this is that we are at the mercy of the events that are happening around us: if life is good we feel good, if it is bad we feel bad.
Perception as a Verb
Although the word perception is actually a noun I would argue that perception is an activity and as such we have choice in how we do it, although many people assume it is a natural phenomena that we have no control over. When we perceive from the outside-in without taking note of how it is affecting our internal state, our emotions are not under our control and it is easy to be affected by all the negativity around us - and to become negative minded ourselves.
In this cycle our personal subjective world can become a hell on earth as we are locked into an emotional roller coaster which can leave us feeling anxious, worried or depressed. The more aware we are of our emotions, the more we can avoid these feelings.
There is another more positive way to ‘do’ perception and this is to take our internal world as a starting point for our relationship with the external world; to look from the inside out. Reality is a meeting of the subjective and objective; how we feel on the inside will affect how we perceive what is going on the outside.
Learning to Observe Emotion
To do this all we need is to become more aware of what is going on inside. When we observe our internal states our thoughts slow down and we gain insights into our real motivations and nuances of personality. In this state we no longer rely on anything outside ourselves for what we feel, and therefore our emotions become more stable. We stumble on a feeling that we cannot get from the outside: a feeling of completeness that is only possible in temporary doses from the outside; a feeling of contentment that can act as a basis for our emotions when we deal with everyday reality.
To change the way we perceive the world all one needs to do is to decide to! With this desire in mind we can set aside some time to start being more aware of our emotions in our bodies. Where and how do we feel our responses to life? What is the relationship between an outside event or internal thought and our emotional response? Take your attention inside your body a few times a day. Become acquainted with that feeling of serenity when your thoughts begin to settle.
There are many ways to do this: relaxing, listening to music, focusing on your breathing or just having a moment to yourself. You can learn to meditate or listen to some deep relaxation CDs. Yoga is also good or even gardening and reading give time and space to start reflecting. Give as much or as little time as you feel ready for. Just watch, and you will see your whole personality unfolding in front of your eyes – your inner eye that is!
This first step is already an immense step forward in the direction of emotional balance and personal development, as it marks the change from a world that has been outside-in for too long.
Some sites I am currently reading and which relate well to this topic: