My sister took a photo of me recently, while we were joking around. She looked at it first and said, “aww I love this photo of you”, she turned the camera to me, and my first reaction was “eww I don’t like it.” I am sure many of us had this exact situation many times. My sister then said, “You look so happy” which has stuck with me and led me to write this piece on perception.
Perception is to perceive. Perceive means ‘to use the senses to become aware of, know, or identify.’ By using our senses, it is subjective. It is not necessarily fact, and often in the case of perception towards ourselves it is not fact at all.
What my sister saw, or perceived, when she looked at the photo was completely different to what I did. It seems that when it comes to ourselves, no matter what we are presented with it is very common for us to be searching for the flaws or focusing on the negatives, while we skim over, or downplay the positives.
I come across this often with other people, particularly during coaching sessions. People will always list more weaknesses then strengths, will often turn a strength into a weakness or frame what could be a strength as a weakness (Bossy, rather than a leader, strong, assertive OR over-sensitive, rather than empathetic, caring, able to read people or situations).
Even after you tell people a strength, or focus on what you perceive to be a positive, how often does that person just take the compliment, thank you, or agree with what you have said? From my experience, sadly, this is rare. More often, a person will deflect the compliment (“well it’s because the environment made it so easy”) down play it (“it was just..”), brush it aside (“that is just part of being human”), or they simply disagree (“that isn’t really a strength”).
Why is it so hard to accept we are good at things, have strengths, are liked, looked up to? Even as a matter of probability, we are bound to have some good features and be strong in some areas. But more than that, we are all unique individuals with amazing abilities, talents, and strengths. There is obviously a bigger piece here on self-confidence, which is what it boils down to, but I just wanted to focus on that perception element first.
Think about this when you look in the mirror, when someone gives you a compliment, when you achieve something, or when you fail a task. What are you telling yourself in these moments, what is your perception of these things, of yourself? And how is this perception holding you back, making you fearful, avoiding something, basically affecting your life?
It is time we address the perception we have of ourselves, and I am doing that right now by posting this photo with this blog. I am choosing to perceive it as a photo of happiness, which is a photo of beauty!
Mel H x