By Ash Stevens 

Perception. We know the word in terms of our ability to see, think, or understand something, but the power of perception goes unseen here. To understand the significance of the meaning of this word, we need to look at where it was born.

The word perceive derives from the Latin word percipere, which can be translated as “to take entirely.” While we would think of taking as a physical act, taking is also a mental action of the mind. It’s this act of taking something completely which applies to our relationships both literally and figuratively — and it’s far more powerful a force than we could fathom. Because of this, the “taking” we call perception is responsible for determining everything when it comes to our love lives (or everything for that matter).

You see, perspective isn’t about giving or understanding. It doesn’t even have the half-ass courtesy to only “take partially.” Instead, it’s about taking something completely, without leaving room for any other option. And, thus, we reveal the problems of perception. We see something one way and insist that’s exactly how it is, and that’s all there is to it, but we forget that we’re but one half of a whole. When two parts come together to make a whole, both halves must be considered to keep it together. We see our half and we know just how it looks and feels, but we fail to see how our half connects with the other half of our whole. And that just creates an endless cycle of pain in which we feel hurt and only hurt them in turn.

Now that I can look back at the hard times my husband and I have behind us,the flaws within my ways become clear…

I blamed. I honestly believed that I was giving my very best. And while this istrue, my best obviously needed a few tweaks and revisions. There were times I felt he was so cold and heartless, and everything seemed so unfair to me — but there was a reason he acted the way he did. I attributed his painful words and actions to him simply “being a jerk,” but in doing so, I completely missed the point in what he was really trying to tell me — and that was that he was unhappy and he needed my help.

I was selfish. The whole time we went through our troubles I was sure that I had an open mind and a big heart — something I’m actually more sure of than ever — but I still couldn’t see the bigger picture. In my fight against feelings that I didn’t want to feel, I failed to see that I was provoking these same terrible feelings within him. But my heart felt raw and exposed, and all I could think about was protecting it. Even though my haphazard defenses just hurt everyone even more in the process.

I only saw what I wanted to see. Not because I was an egocentric a-hole — although that topic is up for debate — but because I was seeing everything through the eyes of my own emotions. When I found myself in a situation I didn’t like, I wasn’t thinking about what I did that helped create the situation. I was feeling like a victim. And no matter how open-minded or considerate I tried to be, I always failed to see all the ways I contributed to our problems. The moment I felt hurt or attacked, I immediately snapped into thinking that my husband’s behavior was wrong and the situation was completely unfair to me. So I never saw the situation for what it really was. Only for what I didn’t want it to be.

I felt sorry for myself. I was experiencing things that I didn’t want to experience. I saw everything as unfair to me, and so I resisted it with all that I had. But by lashing out against him in defense of my ego’s honor, I was refusing to look within and hold myself accountable for my actions. And that’s what was so sad about all of it.

Because by taking blame over taking responsibility, I was ignoring the very obvious fact that my husband was troubled. My husband trusted me with his well-being. The whole reason for us coming to each other was to unite by being there to support each other. I was responsible for looking out for him so that he could look out for me and we’d become stronger together as two than we could ever be as one. But instead of walking with him and moving us forward, I stepped back and let us fall.

I just wanted to be enough. I thought all of his frustrations with me questioned my worth, and this threat to my sense of value infected my smallest insecurities and turned them into monstrosities. To be accepted is to be loved, and by not feeling that I was accepted, I feared that I wasn’t loved. So I took on a quest of proving that I was lovable. I believed I just needed him to acknowledge that I was worthy of his affections, but this quest quickly turned ugly. The thought of not being good enough made me wild with vulnerability, and whenever I felt that he questioned my value to him, I was ready to throw armor onto my heart and fight. And while I fought many fights, I didn’t ever prove that I was worth loving. All I showed him was that I cared more about the heart in my chest than the heart that I held in my hands.

These are the lessons that I received from my experiences. Whether you agree with how I perceive these experiences or not, they lessons are true to me. And that again hits the point that everything in life boils down to perspective. We can argue for a lifetime over relationships and what’s right or wrong, the role of gender, when we’re doing too much or too little, but doing so completely ignores the entire idea of a relationship — To share your life with another. That means that everything we do has in effect on our partner, whether we foresee the impact or not. And so we can choose to grow and support love, or we can resist and destroy it.

Our husbands, and wives, and partners will do things that will send pins through our hearts no matter how much they love them. But that doesn’t mean they’re jerks. It means we’re different.

Our partner may be a match for our hearts, but they’re not our clone.We have to remember that our perceptions are born from our own emotions, experiences, and ideas. This makes forgiveness paramount to all situations. But not the kind of forgiving society says we should do so that we can go on living our own lives. I’m talking about a kind of forgiveness that makes us take responsibility so that we look at our partner’s crap as well as our own.

And while this radical notion may have you squirming in your own skin, stepping back for an outside perspective on the relationships and situations we’re immersed in will reveal a profound truth; that everything we’re experiencing is merely a reflection of ourselves.

This idea is so critical to our lives that I’ll say it again in hopes that you’ll understand how powerful it is…

Every relationship that we have, every situation that we’re in, andeverything that we experience as past, present, or future is a direct resultof our perception.

Love is the powerful force that it is, because loving someone requires vulnerability and depth. To truly love someone, we have to go beyond ourselves and become a part of a web that’s more extensive and profound than anything we could ever be on our own. And, so, we can choose to see things through the lens of our own mind’s eyes — as most of us do — but if we rub our eyes and take a look around, we will see we’re immersed in a vast world of opportunities that extends far beyond where we stand. A world where we can be be far stronger, wiser, and empowered than we had ever anticipated.

So, it is with you… What will you choose to look for? And what will you choose to see?

Feature photo courtesy of Flickrunder Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license 

Ash Stevens is a writer who doubles as a pretend philosopher and a wannabe shaman. When she isn’t writing her soul out on her blog, she’s listening to the great minds (or great comedians) on YouTube, soaking up sunshine, or having yet another fascinating conversation with herself (she gives excellent advice, you know). Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!