The Power of Perception to Cloud Your Views

You walk into a room with a pile of people, and what do you see?  An opportunity to meet and get to know people, or almost instantly a judgement description on each person in the room and a worry about what they will think about you?

There’s no getting away from it, we will all judge everyone we meet immediately we meet them.  However, where we go from there is up to us.  Your perception creates your reality, which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with actuality.  What I mean is, what you think is going on, will affect how you behave and come across, so it will affect what happens, more than anything else.

We judge things according to our values (values are what we believe are important in our lives), and we all have a totally different set of values.  When we meet people who appear to match some of our values, we open up to them and feel all warm about them.  When we meet people who don’t match our values, then we tend to judge them as wrong and not be willing to get to know them or listen to what they may have to say.

The problem is that we let these perceptions rule our lives and affect our future.

Two people walk into a bank, which gets robbed and they both get shot in the arm.  One says ‘blimey that was lucky, we could have been shot somewhere much worse’.  The other one says ‘How unlucky are we, these things ALWAYS happen to me’.  Which are you?

Two people walk into a new group of women; a very intimidating experience!  One becomes painfully aware of what she doesn’t have and immediately assumes they wouldn’t be interested in her.  Eventually, her belief becomes reality.  Not because she wasn’t the same, but because she will have behaved in a way that is uncomfortable and unattractive to be around, especially if it is a habit of hers and she has that ‘chip on the shoulder’ kind of attitude.  The other woman takes some time to assess the situation and watches carefully.  Eventually, she will see that things are not always as they seem, and as she gains confidence, she will be able to connect to the group.

For example, is there a Mum in your school ground who appears to blank you and is a bit scary?  It’s quite possible, that she is actually very stressed, with a ‘difficult’ child that she can’t handle, and is therefore putting on a front in order to protect herself.  What about the gorgeous Mum, who is so well dressed and gorgeous that you think she wouldn’t be interested in you?  Well, actually, if she is totally confident in the way that she is, then she won’t worry about what you look like.  It’s only the Mums that are underneath worried that they don’t have the right clothes/shoes/sunglasses, that will judge you for also not having the right ones.

Let me give you a personal example.  I recently went back to the states to retake the advanced certification course in the Demartini Method (my background) as part of continuing professional development.  On the first day, I’m hormonal (pregnant) and jetlagged, and one of the first to be called upon to do a presentation to the group (no warning!).  I’d seen the woman before get pulled to pieces, and I was immediately nervous, plus I was a bit flummoxed by having to do something differently from the way I traditionally do it, and finally, I knew that my plans for my business might not be in my mentor’s (Dr John Demartini) ideal plans for me!  So I totally fluffed it, and ended up stamping my feet, crying and having a big argument with John.  Afterwards, I sat down and did some used my training to change my perception of him, me and the value that I had to give.  The next day I had my Senior certification interview with John, and passed with flying colours.  I had total clarity on what I was doing, why I was doing it, and why I was of value to his organisation.  Same person.  Just a different perception in my head.

Here’s another example that you will all have seen.  A woman starts to worry that her partner will leave her, because she isn’t good enough for him.  Despite his trying to show her that she is fab, she keeps on.  Eventually, she becomes such a pain in the neck, that he does leave.  It was nothing to do with the fact that she ‘wasn’t good enough’, but more because she became such a pain.  It was her lack of belief in herself that caused the problem, because that is what people pick up on.

When my son joined a new nursery a couple of months back, I was taken aback by the number of rather gorgeous Mums, with rather posh cars, and did feel a little nervous.  But, I realised that they didn’t know me at all, so they wouldn’t really know any particular reason why I wasn’t interesting to meet – I just had to pretend that I was interesting, that’s all ;o)  As time progressed, I realised that it wasn’t one big group of women, but there are about 4 groups.  Some Mums you never see, because they drop the children off early, so to meet them, I popped notes in their children’s bags to arrange play dates.  Some Mums were always late, and much less of the ‘yummy’ type, so to meet them I would pick a day where I didn’t have clients and make sure I hung around a little.  The other group of Mums were totally confident in how they looked, so they don’t mind about me not having the right sun glasses at all.  If I smiled at them and was friendly, they were totally friendly back.  Then the final group of Mums actually appeared less confident in themselves, so I looked for something that we would have in common and then started up a conversation when an opportunity arose.  I’m perfectly aware of the fact that in life only about 50% of people will like you, so I’m not attempting to be liked by everyone.  But heh, that leaves 50% to like me, not bad odds heh!

I know other Mums who have been faced with the same sort of situation, but because they believed that they didn’t have enough money and didn’t fit in, that’s basically what happened.  There might be a small number of mums who wouldn’t be interested for that reason.  But to generalise about a whole town or city, is just daft, it’s not possible for all of them to be only interested in rich friends.

I know several Mums who are from other countries e.g. America or Russia.  Some of them were always worried that they wouldn’t fit in, because they were not english.  They assumed that everyone already had friends, and no one would be interested in them.  The others realised that actually there are plenty of Mums who are a little isolated, and coming from a different country can actually make you interesting to be around.  The first set of Mums are lonely.  The second set of Mums have loads of friends.

What are you worrying about?  Is it affecting how you come across in that situation – work/home/socially?

Have a think about yourself.  Rather than thinking about what you don’t have, concentrate on what you do have?  For work, think about all your past jobs, projects, skills, qualifications, characteristics, and strengths.  Write a really detailed list, until you understand what you are good at and can value yourself more.  For home, think about everything that you do at home, and why you are fabulous to have around?  Socially, think about why people like being around you, is it because you are a good listener, or are you the life and soul of the party, what is it about you that people love?  I’m not suggesting you get big headed about yourself, because that can go the other way!  I’m just suggesting you learn to appreciate why you are wonderful and fantastic.

(Just adding a quick line to help me submit my blog to technorati JYY278WUKM2J)

15 comments

  1. I think this is a fabulous post. I’ve long been aware of the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ – it’s happened in my life and the lives of others. Trying to turn it round is something we can and should all do. I’ve also been well aware of perceived playground slights – and once you scratch a little under the surface, you soon discover that 95% of those scary mothers are lovely underneath. You should pitch this to a magazine.

  2. As usual very sage advice, makes me sit back and think and of course, totally totally relevant to me. I like the 50% thing, that has really stuck with me from something you said before. Thanks! xx

  3. At what age do you think children can become aware of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and understand that the way they are acting is causing a problem? I totally agree with everything you’ve written on this post and I have tried explaining to my 9 year old son about how things will seem better if he changes the way he reacts, if he makes an effort to act happier he will then feel happier, and if he stops focusing on the bad things he will feel better etc. but he doesn’t take this on board at all.

    1. Hmmm interesting Jenny.
      Well Max understood the concept of ‘Nothing is Missing’ at 2yrs (that is that you can’t destroy or create anything, e.g. water becomes ice or steam, but doesn’t disappear). So when he missed Daddy, I would ask, well who could you have a cuddle with that would make up a cuddle from Daddy – which tended to be me, the big black hairy dog and a teddy.
      He also got the idea of that everyone has every trait very early on – i.e we are all naughty and nice, bad and good etc.
      Plus, that there are benefits to difficult things, like if Daddy was away, there are upsides to it.
      These are all very complex ideas, and yet he got them quickly!
      However, consequences to actions and attitude seems to be a more difficult idea (he is coming up for 4yrs).
      He did manage to apply the ideas I gave him for bullying (see my latest bullying blogs about that).
      Bear in mind I’m not totally up for ‘positive thinking’ anyway – I’ve blogged on that too – so I wouldn’t be trying to get Max to attempt to be happy all the time. I’m more up for him being OK with saying he is feeling grumpy and going with it.

      But if I was in your situation, I would be looking at who/what things he really enjoys and values, and then linking those to the concept of ‘what you think about you get’ – like his favourite TV show, or a film with that sort of message. Or maybe role playing – Max loves puppets, maybe your son is too old for that? Oooh – maybe there is another child in his class, who would be a good example for him – so a shy child who doesn’t get to play much because they don’t ask to?

      What sorts of things is he doing, that you would like him to reconsider – generally grumping around, or being pessimistic about stuff?

      1. Generally pessimistic about everything. I’ve written what he does on my blog. He complains all the time about not liking school, not wanting to go to wherever he’s got to go, even if it’s something he really enjoys when he gets there we will stll have to go through the whole complaining thing next time. The whinging will go on and on until I eventually have to just shut my brain off so I cant hear what he’s saying any more or he would drive me nuts.

      2. Hmmm – okey dokey – give me a couple of days and I’ll check out your blog and think up some ideas for you.

        In the meantime, I have something for you to think about – where is he optimistic or who does he tend to be optimistic with? Because he can’t possibly be pessimistic about everything, however much it appears like that to us at times.

  4. Thank you! The immediate one that comes to mind is his love of computer games. He is very, very good at them and gets a lot of satisfaction from completing the level or the whole game. He can understand and complete 16+ gmaes no problem. I am sure the gaming helped him become a free reader by year 3 as he has always needed to read instructions on the screen. I don’t let him play 18+ games at home as they are too violent but his uncle sometimes does at Nanny & Grandads house. He also enjoys playing with what ever toys are his current favourite and can happily amuse himself for hours. At the moment dinosaurs or aeroplanes. He’s been through lego, knex, transformers, pokemon, Ben 10 – it varies every few months. Not sure of any people that he is optimistic with – will keep thinking on that one. I’d say he’s not a people person!

    1. Well, he’ll soon be optimistic with all the friends he makes online – it’s the world my husband very happily lives in!

      I read one of your blogs – and you are right, sometimes positive encouragement doesn’t work, so consequences of removal of treats does work. (Other children would be totally opposite, just to confuse the issue). How much does he get to do the things that he loves without doing something in return? One idea, might be to start to gently bring in a new regime where any treat doesn’t occur without a payment (it can be little things, like my 4yr old to let the dogs out when the need a pee, or help with the washing – it’s more the thought that counts).

      The other thing is that if someone isn’t open to our suggestions, we just aren’t describing them in a way that makes a good sell to them. ALthough it might seem a pain, it is extremely caring if we talk in their language. I’ll keep reading the rest of your blogs and get some more ideas for this idea – might have to do a quick blog on it too for you.
      xxx

  5. I really liked this post and a lot of it rang true with me so thank you for giving me some insight into how I might be able to turn things round a little bit. I have exactly this problem with a particular group of people, can’t say who but its made me think that how I act has a big effect on the situation. Thanks again.

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