Perception and emotion

By Casey Cheah, 7 August 2019

Perception and emotion

Perception and emotion both determine our experience of life. I’ve been a yoga teacher for many years now, and teach numerous classes each week. Some days, I get full classes, and other days I will have fewer students. Sometimes I will see mainly regular students, and other days I will have the pleasure of meeting many new faces.

Perception and emotion

One day a couple of months ago I was chatting to a fellow yoga teacher who had just started teaching. My class that particular morning had fewer students, and I casually commented on this out loud. Her response was ‘oh don’t worry, I’m sure it has nothing to do with you’. She then looked flustered, and followed up with ‘doesn’t it knock your confidence when less people turn up for your class’?

Life is like a Rubik’s cube

In each and every moment, our perception and emotion determine our experience. I like to think of life like a Rubik’s cube. When trying to solve the Rubik’s cube, we twist and turn the boxes. Every side of the cube will show different patterns and colours, depending on how we look at it. Just like in everyday life, we can turn the situation around and around, and see different perspectives depending on how we look at it.

We will never please everyone and that’s okay

Early into my yoga teaching career, one of the first lessons I learnt very quickly was that no matter what I taught in class, I could never please everyone. Nor was it my job to please everyone! My responsibility is rather to hold space and guide my students. To share my knowledge and experience in a way that is accessible and interesting. And to encourage them in their own experience of yoga. The other big lesson I learnt early on was to not take things personally – whether that be complaints, criticism, or anything else.

We see the world through our own perspective

My fellow teacher later told me when she gets fewer students in her class, her confidence drops. It was clear she was projecting her concerns, and this is something we all do, mostly without realizing it. We see the world through our own perspective. It can take a conscious effort to step back and turn the situation around in our mind. The problem is she was relying on something outside her control (her students) to boost her confidence. This problem gets exacerbated if she also attaches her identity to being a yoga teacher. Less students would then not only knock her confidence as a teacher, but also who she is as a person.

Choose a more empowering meaning

In order to stay strong and confident, it is more valuable to attach an empowering meaning to the situation. That day I chose to view my smaller class as an opportunity to build deeper relationships with my students. It was good to get to know them better, and to create a more intimate setting that was safe and friendly for everyone. I chose a meaning that enhanced my experience in that class rather than put me in a negative, disempowered state.

Meaning = Emotion = Life

Tony Robbins (best selling author, philanthropist and life coach) says ‘ultimately how we feel about our lives has nothing to do with the events of our lives, or what has happened to us, but rather by the meaning we give these things. Meaning equals emotion and emotion equals life’. If I had chosen a meaning such as ‘a smaller class means I’m a terrible teacher or worse, a terrible person’, I probably would have taught a terrible class and had no confidence in myself. But by choosing a different meaning, I got excited to create a more intimate group.

Perception and emotion determine our experience

One thing I know is that no matter what, we cannot control anyone except ourselves. I have no control over who will turn up to my yoga class. The only thing I can control is myself, and the meaning I give the situation I am experiencing. When we choose an empowering meaning, we have the ability to enhance our situation and how we feel. If we choose a disempowering meaning, then we start to shave off our confidence, self-esteem and end up feeling worse about ourselves.

If this article resonates with you, and you would like to know more about building self confidence and developing inner strength, book in for a Reiki session here.

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