As adults, we need the ability to step back when we are experiencing an angry outburst from someone in order to observe the person and the situation. But this can be quite difficult as many of us have a need to “win” an argument. This façade of triumph over another and the need to be “right” can prolong an unpleasant situation. It is, therefore, imperative to train ourselves to not add “fuel to the fire” by participating and instead diffuse the situation with observation. This is not easy and it takes practice.

When an argument with someone has turned into a heated discussion with what appears to be no end in sight, it is the perfect time to look at the situation in a new way; this is called a perceptual shift.

As we notice our faces become red, voices rise, and stress levels elevate, we need to shift our perception from our being a victim to focusing on the other person as being frightened.

Once we are able to look beyond their behavior and focus on the fear that resides just below the surface of the turmoil, it may be easier to respond to the other person with kindness instead of anger and disapproval.

Often times, the other person will accuse us of trying to manipulate them as our tone softens. Although they may question our sincerity, we should not let this deter our loving behavior. It is all the more reason to stick to our plan to extend love and express compassion. This process may take some time before the other begins to understand that we have an interest in eradicating the painful experience of the argument for both of us.

 Kill Fear with Kindness

Often mistrustful people will react in a negative manner to the kindness and become suspicious of our intentions. People have a difficult time processing the fact that they actually have a choice between happiness and misery.

If this continues to happen—despite our efforts to stop the stress—we may need to evaluate whether or not this is an appropriate relationship for us. Both people need to respond in kind. Sometimes our efforts will show us the other’s person desire to remain in pain and cling to their suffering.

By seeing the fear, we can let go of our own fears in dealing with such a difficult situation. Seeing the other person differently also allows us to create different feelings, which, in turn, bring different ways of behaving towards them and cumulatively begins to heal the other’s fears of further hurts. As our false perceptions heal, the other person also heals.

 Perceptions Rule the World

If we view others as capable, we will deal with them differently and they will behave differently. People with angry outbursts—and even violent behavior problems—should be regarded as frightened and appealing for help and love. With this perception, we are all less likely to participate in the battle that stands before us. Instead of feeling like the other person requires control and judgment, view them as needing our love and help.

Someone’s whole world can change as a result of how we perceive them; that is why perception is such a powerful force. How is it our perceptions of others and situations have such an influence on our experience of them? Projection makes perception. Quite simply, this means that the thoughts and beliefs inside of us are projected, coloring our perception of the outside world, its events and our relationships in it. It is not what another person says or does, nor the events of life that make us happy or unhappy, but rather what we think about that person’s behavior or those events.

 What we Believe We Perceive!

If it is our perceptions that bring our pain and suffering, then how can we change them? How can we move from a powerless position—in which we feel like a victim at the mercy of the people in our lives—to an empowered and happy one where we take responsibility for our thoughts and behaviors, and choose to extend love? How do we accomplish this task without having to wait for another person or the world to change?

A perceptual shift is choosing to see someone or a situation differently. It is seeing through the behavior presented to us that appears attacking, rejecting or depriving. It is looking with an X-ray vision to see that the undesirable behavior is only a person who is not having access to their true self.


An Exercise to Change your Perception

When a person is behaving toward us in a way we do not like, we can simply ask ourselves, “Is it love coming from this person?” If the answer is no, then we can assume that this person may be afraid and appealing for love. Instead of viewing this person then as an “ogre”, we can see them as a scared child hiding behind a paper tiger and who desperately wants love. In fact, the more ferocious sounding the tiger, the greater the fear and desperation for love.

 In moments of crises, there seem to be two categories of people: those who are able to extend love and those appealing for love out of fear. All of us vacillate between the two categories. Both, however, provide opportunities to get in touch instantly with empowering love. When we are in a state of loving, we are manifesting our true self essence, which is love and our divine nature. When someone is extending love, we can be in touch with love just by opening our hearts to receiving it.

Dr. Henry Grayson received his Ph.D. from Boston University and is a faculty member of The Graduate Institute in Bethany, CT, where he teaches energy psychology for their Integrative Health & Healing degree program.  Learn more at