Fact: We’re all selfish assholes.

Let’s start this off with a situation: You are sitting on a park bench watching your children happily playing, and in the opposite direction you hear a child screaming in fear. You turn around to try and find the source of this screaming, and you see a small child running away from a middle-aged man. What’s your reaction?

Society has primed us to perceive certain situations and arrive at what we feel is a logical conclusion, but in this instance, this is just a Father chasing his daughter with a small, scary looking insect he found on a tree. The Father eventually catches his daughter, and they fall to the ground in a warm embrace and the girl starts laughing. On the other side of the park, you see a woman staring lovingly at the Father and daughter with one of the most genuine, sincere smiles you’ve ever seen. It’s been quite a while since she has seen her husband and daughter play together like this and her heart is so full of love and happiness right now that you can see it radiating from her like a fireplace on a cold Winters night.

Your initial perception of this innocent situation is one of horror and fear, and rightfully so. Who is responsible for this horror and fear that you felt? Is it fair to lash out at the Father? Are you justified in being angry at the daughter for making you feel this way? Not even a little bit. Just because the actions of someone makes you feel a certain emotion, it in no way justifies your response. Your response is based entirely on your perception of this situation, and the responsibility of this falls directly on your shoulders.

Is the Father still a selfish asshole for terrifying his daughter with a scary looking insect? Arguably, yes. Have I done similar things to my daughter before? Absolutely. We’re all assholes, remember? Anyway, I digress.

The point I’m trying to make is that your perception of a particular situation isn’t always accurate. Letting your emotions dictate the way you perceive and react to certain situations is counter-productive and unhealthy. You can’t believe your own perceptions all the time because the way you perceive a situation is fundamentally made up of everything you have experienced in your life prior to this very moment, both negative and positive, and the opinion of the people you surround yourself with. Everyone is biased and selfish without even realising it because our thoughts and actions are, for the most part, on auto-pilot. The way to combat this is through self-awareness and empathy.

Throughout my troubles with mental health in the past, I really struggled with this aspect of things. My perception of how I was carrying myself was that of a high standard and I have always taken pride in my levels of self-awareness and empathy in the past, and I did so during that difficult time of my life as well. Unbeknownst to me at the time though, I was absolutely fucking horrible with both of these qualities.

I have not been on medication for mental health related issues for approximately eight months now, and the level of clarity I have now still actually makes me feel a bit overwhelmed at times; especially having that contrast of how I was thinking and behaving in the past, not just towards others, but within and towards myself as well.

It’s made me realise that regardless of someone's actions towards you or others, you are always 100% responsible for the way you yourself perceive a situation and how you react to these perceptions. There’s a quote in one of my favourite songs that state "the best intentions make the worst mistakes” and I think it’s important that we all remember that from time to time. Your intentions are a choice, and your perceptions are a choice.

Everyone goes through shitstorms in their lives. Everyone has emotional baggage. Everyone has past traumas that they are still struggling with today. If you yourself can make a mistake and have something taken out of context or misunderstood, why do we rarely give everybody else the same benefit of the doubt? Why are we so quick to condemn someone for their mistakes?

The answer to that question in that in one way or another, we’re all selfish assholes. We’re all hypocrites. We’re all scared. We always think that we’re all being completely reasonable and objective with our thoughts, beliefs and actions, but we’re not. Until you can start questioning yourself, your actions, and your perceptions, you are never going to be able to fully trust yourself. Question everything; it's how we grow.

Pain is unavoidable in life, and it’s up to us to determine how we handle pain. We can avoid pain through distraction, we can blame others for the pain we feel, or we can use it to become better people and to learn from our past mistakes. I have personally used all three of those methods, but I’m now choosing to focus on the healthiest method of the three. The pain and struggles we face in our lives can make or break us, depending on the way we choose to approach it. I’m choosing to be thankful for my pain. I have had so many positive life experiences ever since my issues with mental health and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those struggles. Friends are now acquaintances and acquaintances are now friends. Loved ones are now strangers, and some strangers are now loved ones.

I’ve lost a lot through the struggles I went through, but I have also gained a hell of a lot as well; the most valuable being an insight to myself that I never had. My perceptions are still just that – my own. They’re not right and they’re not wrong, but they’re mine. They make me, me, and I choose to be confident and happy with the person that I am today.

Until you change your thinking, you’ll always recycle your experiences.

 UK   /pəˈsep.ʃənUS   /-/ 
perception noun (BEL  
C2 belief or opinion, often held by many people and based on how things seem: 

- KD