“Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Imagine using a new language that prevents you from blaming others, being reactive, manipulating, fearing anything in the outside world, needing social approval, being offended by others, and being controlled or controlling others.
Imagine that these problems were simply eliminated from your life because your new language makes them impossible. Welcome to Perceptual Language.
Refined by Jake and Hannah Eagle of Green Psychology, Perceptual Language represents a major development in psychology, perhaps the greatest breakthrough since the days of Freud.
When you learn Perceptual Language, you engage your tongue and your brain toward a new level of enlightenment. Here is a brief overview of how it works.
Principle #1: There is no out there out there.
Perceptual Language honors the principle that we don’t respond to “the world out there.” We respond to our perception of the world. Perception is formed by beliefs, cultural norms, religious affiliation, genetic factors, life experience, sense of right and wrong, and so much more.
All of these factors combine to filter the information that passes through our senses, allowing us to figure out what things mean. In other words, we don’t ever directly experience anything outside of ourselves. We only experience ourselves.
When I listen to my wife talk, I am actually hearing my perception of her words, gestures and so forth. I am making meaning out of what she communicates based on that. This may or not match the meaning she intends to convey.
If I am offended by her, it is important to understand that I am actually offended by what I did with her words based on how I made meaning out of them. In essence, I am offended by her-in-me. Not by her, the real person. I can never experience her, the real person, directly.
In essence, I am offended by this person that I have made a part of me by the way I perceive her. In the end, I am offended by none other than myself.
In short, it is not what people do to me that causes problems for me, but what I do with people to cause myself problems.
Perceptual Language in practice:
“My wife asked me to calm down.”
“I had my-wife-in-me asking me to calm down.”
This way of phrasing acknowledges that I do not experience my wife the way she experiences herself. She is not acting on me. I am acting on myself with my perception of her. When I respond to her, I am really responding to my perception. I am responding to me.
There are huge benefits to understanding and communicating with this in mind. When I really get this principle, a whole new world in me opens up. Suddenly, I don’t take things personally.
I do not get offended very easily. I can listen to criticism with an open mind. I don’t take myself so seriously or believe others have power over me.
Principle #2: I am an active process.
I act as opposed to being acted upon. I am my own agent. It is true that something may well act upon me. A tree may fall on me. A car may hit me. Another person may shove me.
Psychologically, however, I consider it more important how I respond to these events—what meaning I make of them—and I do this actively.
People so often portray themselves as passive or as victims in their use of language.
“She made me feel so angry.”
“My father makes me feel helpless.”
“I am troubled by my past.”
In reality (in me) I am the one doing the acting. I actively create my own experience. With Perceptual Language I express myself differently:
“I anger myself with her.”
“I make myself feel helpless when I am with my father.”
“I trouble myself with my past.”
This way of putting words together suggests that I am an active participant in my own experience. I am doing to myself as opposed to having things done to me.
There is a world of difference between “I trouble myself with my past” and “I am troubled by my past.”
If I am troubled by my past, then I see my past as something fixed that is acting upon me. In this view, I might have my past being something back there that actually has power over me. So many of us think, speak, feel, and act as if this were actually true.
In the moment I shift myself to “I trouble myself with my past” I transform my experience. In this view, I am doing something to myself. I am the agent. Nothing other than myself is acting upon me.
Moreover, I am acting on my past-in-me. In other words I am troubling myself with how I am creating my past. This is a significant distinction.
If I am the one who is taking action, I can stop taking this action. Or, I can act differently. A new world of possibility opens up when I get this concept.
I open a new world of possibility in me. I empower myself, no longer believing that I am a victim of outward circumstance when I “verb” myself in this way.
I am not motivated. I motivate myself. I am not excited. I excite myself. I am not sad. I sadden myself. I am not depressed. I depress myself.
I don’t give power to other people or circumstances or life to do anything to me psychologically. I do everything to myself. What do I want to do to myself?
Principle #3: Everything that is happening is happening right now.
When we use Perceptual Language, we speak in the present tense. Most of us believe that there is a past, a present, and a future. I believe that there is only now.
I can only experience myself right now. While I am contemplating the past, I am doing so now, perceiving the past within me at this moment. My future is similar to my past in that when I think about the future I am creating it right now.
When I speak of the past, I can acknowledge in my language that the thoughts or feelings I’m having about my past are happening now. When I speak myself I want to connect myself with my experience in this moment.
“Tomorrow is going to be a scary day.”
“I scare myself with my thoughts about tomorrow.”
“I enjoyed fishing with my dad when was a child.”
”I enjoy myself now with thoughts of fishing with my dad when I was a child.”
There may be endless combinations of words to illustrate how to reflect the here and now in our language. When I speak, I want to remind myself continually that I am doing to myself, right here, right now.
The past that I thought was behind me becomes another aspect of how I experience myself now. The future waiting for me in the great beyond is now within my reach.
So, the world I interact with is within me. I actively create it, right now. Perceptual Language makes these healing concepts a reality.
I learned Perceptual Language by attending a weeklong workshop, called a Green Psychology Lab. During the lab, participants learned Perceptual Language, among other principles that create a psychologically eco-friendly experience, and used it exclusively during all of our communication. After roughly three days of speaking in this way, my world began to shift.
I realized when others judge me; I am actually using my perception of them to judge myself. I also realized that what they were saying was just their perception of me, not me.
I not only got the philosophy that I create my own world, but I had the actual experience, along with others. When these principles are infused with every sentence that comes out of your mouth, it becomes your reality before long.
After seven days of Perceptual Language, spoken by all 20 participants, I couldn’t get myself back to the old way of seeing the world. It was as if a lifetime of being acted upon, blaming, and resisting just imploded before me. What was left? Just me doing me.
The radical sense of personal responsibility—and radical new freedom—will always remain with me.
Language forms the foundation of our perception. When you change the structure of your language, you change the structure of your world.
Photo by Dan Vitoriano