How do you see the world? Do you think you see it the same way the closest people in your life do? Do you sometimes wonder how some people seem to embrace everything that comes their way with gusto? And, how others have trouble taking even the smallest risks?
I was recently listening to the “Your Highest Self” podcast. The host, Sahara Rose, was interviewing Meg Monahan, a meditation teacher and author. They were discussing a new book she wrote on meditation, “Don’t Hate, Meditate!” During the interview, Monahan shared an insight she heard from Deepak Chopra while training with him.
She said, “Deepak Chopra told me that, at around age 7-8 years old, children receive the initial imprint of their conditioning, made up of everything they’ve seen and heard or have been told.” She described this as having your own unique set of prescription lenses placed upon you. She went on to say that, over time, these lenses become thicker because we unwittingly reinforce that way of seeing and being.
Our own unique “prescription lenses” – the way we see the world.
I found this an interesting way to describe how our perceptions of everything are placed upon us unknowingly by those closest to us. “Prescription lenses” is such a powerful image because we know that they affect every single thing we see – near or far, hazy or clear, neutral, or full of color.
I picture a laboratory where our family members place their feelings, thoughts, and perceptions onto our little lenses. Layers may include feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, excitement, hopefulness, and joy. They do this just by being in the room with the lenses. The energy of their thoughts and feelings builds layers onto our lenses.
I can picture myself standing in front of a classroom of third graders. Each student had on a unique pair of glasses. In my image, the glasses are dramatic! Some were Elton John style – really wild and wacky. Others were ordinary with a greyish tint. Some were shiny and slightly rose-colored. In all cases, the lenses were locked in place.
The layers that affect our perception of everything around us.
I decided I wanted to explore this idea and look at these “prescription lenses” more closely. In my mind, I can see layers and layers on top of each other. Some layers closer to the surface can be changed easily. They represent attitudes that can shift. I will call them tinted areas.
The deeper down the layers go, the more rooted the thoughts, imprints, and beliefs. The middle layers may represent acquired beliefs and states of mind our caregivers held, and now we hold. The most stubborn beliefs, held in the closest part of the lens to us, are based on our decisions about ourselves in response to our parents’ and caregivers’ emotions and behaviors.
These lenses also affect how we see ourselves.
So, if this is true, so much of what we see through these lenses at such a young age will profoundly impact how we view everything in our world, and even more so – what we see when we look in the mirror. And what we see will be reflected onto us in the way we give and receive kindness and love, our expectations of how exciting and wonderful life will be, or how scary and unpredictable it might be.
What we see may be more subtle – feeling like we’re not very important or that maybe things work out more easily for others and not for ourselves. I’m not sure how anyone else views their world through their unique set of lenses, but for me, there are definitely things I really love and want to keep and other things that I would be happy to let go of.
How can we change the prescription in our lenses?
Then I think, How can I possibly change the prescription in my lenses? What if I want to remove some of these layers that I inherited from those closest to me? Monahan suggests that meditation is the answer. She says that, through meditation, we can remove layer upon layer, which can then bring us back to our original state of seeing a world full of joy and wonder.
For me, meditation and just becoming aware of these “lenses” are the most critical first steps. Being able to actually “see” the lenses I’ve been wearing has been so helpful.
Some ways I was able to change the lenses through which I see the world
Thankfully, we can change these lenses. In traditional therapy, I spent many years working through issues that went way back. I experienced some exciting breakthroughs in some areas, but the one area that I continually struggled with was my sense of self-worth in the context of dating and relationships.
It took many painful experiences to realize that a part of me still didn’t “believe” that I truly deserved a great partner. This “layer” was probably one of the thickest and most stubborn layers of my prescription. I needed it to change. I got to work! Through therapy, meditation, and prayer, I peeled away the layers of this belief. I understood where this layer came from. And I was able to change that lens prescription once and for all.
Checking in: What lenses are you looking through right now?
These challenging times now have me thinking about my lens prescription again. Knowing I can adjust some things more easily than others, I question:
Am I looking through the lens of doubt and fear?
Definitely yes – when I question everything that is happening. I know I’m in this place when I almost feel a sense of sadness and disconnection. Or, I feel worried about what might happen in the future. I feel lost in my thoughts, and they aren’t good thoughts. This is when I know I’m looking through old lenses. I need to put on a new pair.
Another test – am I seeing through the lens of faith?
I know I’m wearing these lenses when I have a deep sense of knowing that I’m exactly where I belong, doing precisely what I’m meant to be doing. Everything is happening for a higher purpose. Also, there are joyful, hopeful possibilities everywhere I turn. I see positive outcomes, and I see myself being led down a guided and loving path.
Wrapping it up
We can’t control what lenses we were given to wear when we were seven years old. We received them as a gift. I’ve come to think that although some people are blessed to receive beautiful rose-colored lenses at such a young age, others are given the challenge and the opportunity to remake their lenses to their own liking.
Thankfully we can do just that. There are so many resources at our fingertips, including healers, teachers, authors, etc., that can help us to take another look at our lenses and to create the perfect pair we can wear as we go forward.
Our lenses need continual polishing and retinting. I’m going to keep adding rose colored tint to mine.
To learn more, see: