Have you ever wanted to see yourself from other people’s eyes? Have you ever heard your own voice in a voicemail recording or echo back on a speaker and cringed? I have always been fascinated by the gap that exists between our own self-perception, others’ perception of us and the objective reality. I have always acknowledged that my own perception of myself could be clouded but I used to assume that how others saw me was the objective view or the true reflection of me. That led me down a long road of becoming a people-pleaser. I somehow lost touch with what my heart desired, what my personal goals were and where I could’ve been in life if I had had different influences.
Spending the evening at the beach, I stared at the reflection of the sun, birds and clouds in the lake being distorted to the shape of the waves. The more still the water got, the more accurate the reflection became. It reminded me of every time I was misjudged or my intentions were misunderstood and I realized that while it was not my fault. it was not the other person’s fault either. Then I remembered the amount of times I have judged people too quickly and whether I was biased in those judgements (almost always). If the person judging you has something happening in their own life which is causing distress, it’s likely their perspective is going to be effected by it. We are going to view our self and even others differently at a troubling time than we would if our life was sailing smoothly. In fact, we project our own feelings and fears on to others all the time.
Today, I choose to take both compliments and criticism with a grain of salt, as my mom has ingrained in my head: “hear every opinion, then do what makes sense to you.” Of course, there are some established objective truths in the world. However, it’s quite humbling to know that our perceptions can only reach close to the objective reality and not be one and the same with it, and even that can only be accomplished with some hard work and discipline. It’s also refreshing because it allows for unlimited forgiveness and acceptance of self and others, since all we have is a reflection, which can be distorted by our own inner turmoil.
So every morning, make sure your mirror is clear of any dirt or stains so you can see as objectively as possible. More importantly, let your eyes see beyond the socially constructed scale of approval and instead appreciate what you see and what exists as real to you.