Perception is Everything
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Perception is Everything

Written by Emilie

Topics: Confidence

A few months ago, I went to my first Bollywood dance class. During the class I met several people, but there were two girls in particular whom I spent more time talking to.

The first girl was really sweet and positive. The second girl was nice, but a little more closed off. We ended up taking the same bus home. She seemed like a good person, just a little judgmental and negative. It didn’t bother me at the time. I know these emotions are really just byproducts of insecurity. I’ve been there.

Anyway, two weeks later I attended another dance class. This time, only one of the girls was there– the judgmental one. She was standing behind me throughout the entire class. Dance was new to me and I was already nervous. For the entire hour, the only thing I could think was that this girl was judging me, comparing us, criticizing my “moves.” (As you can see, insecurity is contagious.)

Finally at the end of the class, the teacher went around the room and had us introduce ourselves. As the girl said her name, I suddenly realized the mistake I had made… It turns out she wasn’t the judgmental girl I had taken the bus with! She was the really positive, warm girl I had met that same class.

In that moment I realized that my entire experience of that night had been wrong. This girl hadn’t been judging me at all. She probably wasn’t even looking at me. But because I had perceived it, that became my experience– my “truth.”

Question Your Perception

This experience was a good reminder for me. Having rules for “how things are,” and “what things mean” can be very dangerous.

Learn to become aware of the meaning you assign to different situations, and then question that meaning. Our beliefs and insecurities don’t just colour reality, they create it.

Your Turn

When did your perception create an experience that you later discovered to be entirely wrong?

21 Comments

  1. Colleen says:

    I hadn’t thought about insecurity spreading like that. Usually, when we’re the one that’s insecure, we’re so far into our own heads that we can’t see anyone else.

    It’s interesting to think of it from outside yourself – that you might be making others insecure as well. I think I’m going to have to muse on that for a bit more before I get all the implications.

    • Emilie says:

      Oh definitely. Insecurity has all kinds of external implications when it comes to behaviour. And our behaviour impacts other people’s feelings, so yeah.

      Of course it can work in a positive way too. If you’re really confident and you radiate happiness and acceptance, then those around you who are insecure will begin to feel more comfortable.

  2. Matt R says:

    Hey Emilie,
    That’s the hard part about humans. How can we turn off labeling? It’s difficult because of our evolution but it’s worth the effort. It’s the other person’s openness to new people that determines a lot as well. However, keep interacting with all those people. It’s awesome.

  3. Annie says:

    I have moments like this all the time.

    This post reminds me of one time when I was having an argument with a friend online, and at a critical point (or at least, it seemed that way) she signed off.

    I got in a huff and started thinking terribly about her. “What a coward, backing out of an argument!” etc. etc…. only to find a couple hours later that her computer had crashed. She apologized profusely for the argument and the sudden disappearance, and I felt, in general, like I had made an ass of myself (and I had!).

    It’s times like those that we have to realize that we create the truth in our world. I’d entirely irrationally decided that she was a terrible person for backing out of the discussion–which hadn’t even happened. I feel like it takes moments where we deceive ourselves to understand our true feelings, though.

    For instance, only when we’re fed bad rumors about a friend do we truly realize if we trust them enough to disregard what we’ve been told.

    It would be an interesting exercise if it could be simulated… but it would also be slightly scary. Perception is a powerful thing, after all.

    • Emilie says:

      Very interesting, thanks for sharing Annie. It’s amazing how there’s no difference between perception and reality. But as you said, once you realize that, you can sort of learn to construct your own reality!

  4. Postpartum depression can cause unreal, however extremely lifelike, flashbacks. These experiences are so real and so vivid, they can alter the reality of the person suffering from them. Those new ‘experiences’ can sometimes cause real life-altering events. Someone close to me suffered from a severe case of postpartum depression, and ended up not only accusing a close family member of something they hadn’t done (as far as we know), but ended up calling the cops (nothing was proven) on them and eventually severing their connections with them entirely. All of this happened based on these flashbacks.

    I’ve always felt that a person can make real life choices, extreme choices, when stress overwhelms a persons ability to interpret. As, in all honesty, aren’t we all interpreters even when speaking the same language as the person we’re conversing with?

    Thanks for the post. It’s a good reminder for everyone, no matter where they are, to remember that your interpretations aren’t always going to be accurate to what’s actually going on.

  5. Holli says:

    My husband was working long, long days on a project with a short deadline. I was working late on a project. We both were going to bed too late, often at different times of the night. Add to that two young kids, and we hadn’t had any real sort of conversation than the necessary: This is happening this day, at this time for our son’s school, tomorrow you take him, the next day I will, etc.

    I decided we needed a date just to chill together and reconnect. I set up a sitter, and was so excited that I told him in the middle of the morning rush to get out the door that we’d have a date, time, location, etc. His response was a facial grimace! I was confused, but too hurried to ask why until the end of the day. So, the entire morning, I was wondering what he deal was…I fought those negative thoughts telling me he wasn’t happy for this date, or was mad at me for some reason.

    At the end of the day, I asked about it, and he was just too full of information, and grimaced at the hectic series of dates and times he’d have to remember. I totally understood!

    A good reminder to me about being too busy, and to not read into a response when in a hurry.

    Thanks, Emilie!

    • Emilie says:

      Perfect example. Relationships tend to be an area where this sort of thing happens a lot (i.e. “he didn’t call, he must not love me!”) But that makes sense since love is something most of us are very sensitive about.

      Thanks Holli.

      • I had a chick ‘give up’ on our relationship together because of this exact mis-perception! :P

        It really sucked. It also inspired me to connect with focused, committed, and perceptive human beings.

        (She’ll be back… they *always* come back, and I never left ;) )

  6. Heelllll yeah. LOVE IT.

    I learned this young and it’s stuck with me tightly :)

    Meaning is assigned, and it creates reality.

    Also… Bollywood Dance sounds hawwwt. :D

    • Emilie says:

      Absolutes! And Bollywood is incredible. If you ever get the chance to check out a dance class, do it.

      • I tend to attract dancers (my business partner is a dancer and in the wings I have a product to help dancers succeed. [Severely underserved market] ) — Bollywood dance is almost assured :D

  7. jennifer says:

    I can definitely relate to you on this one, Emilie! Although my error of perception cost me a lot of heartache. But I did learn from it and am stronger because of it, so I can’t really find it in myself to regret it. But what happened to me, was I met this guy who I thought was “the one.” He literally was the perfect guy and we had everything in common and I was so in love with him. But then I found out three months into dating him that he was also dating three other people at the same time as me. Of course this didn’t show up to me at all because I was so blinded by him. But once I took a step back and adjusted my perception, I realized all the signs were there, I just didn’t see them because I perceived him to be someone he wasn’t. A hard lesson to learn… but definitely worth it. Now I know better than to project the idea of what I want/who I want onto someone who is not it.

    • Emilie says:

      Oh ouch! I’m sorry you had to learn that lesson in such a painful way. Relationships tend to be the area where we most often do this. We want so desperately to believe in the idea of a person that we miss actually getting to know them. I struggle with these issues as well.

      • It is always wonderful to see something in someone else, whether they know it or not, whether they see it or not.

        (As long as somewhere inside them, they wish to be the ideal you are seeing.)

        I see SUCCESS in everyone, but if they continually access failure mindsets, I move away very quickly.

        But not once do I see them as unsuccessful.

        My faith and ability to ‘walk through fire’ in peace, with a smile, allows me to focus purely on the Idea of someone.

        This works wonders so long as you are focusing on an idea of them that they WANT TO BE.

        If you see your partner, for example, as very sexual, and deep in their heart, they *want* to be very sexual, but have been resisting their whole life, or scarred… focusing on the idea will bring it to life. It`s power. It`s what human faith is all about.

        Warning: THIS. MAY. HAPPEN. IN. STRANGE. WAYS.

        It`s not a set process Person A has faith, Person B wants it deep down… Success!

        It may go more like: you encourage a wanted aspect of Person B and focus on it, but Person B is so resistant or so strongly afraid, that it takes a long time, progress is slow.

        You can’t help but notice their ‘failure’ and start to get annoyed at their lack of co-operation.

        This thinking makes it take even longer.

        Then the only solution that feels good is for one or the other to give space and separate, even though you’d like them to realize their own power with you around.

        Reunion can occur, if both parties are interested. Or they will become that sexual being you both wanted… but sort of sadly… Away From You.

        Make sense?

  8. It’s natural, can’t help it, it’s my No Matter What.

    Creative, focused, success through clarity shows up in all interactions with me…

    It`s what I do ;)

  9. Jaqi says:

    I used to believe my dad would finally change after he kicked out our scary stepmother, but it turns out my stepmother left him because she’s tired of him cheating on her. They both used each other. He also used us.
    My dad never really cared for me nor my sisters, he only cared about the things we do and the well-being of his reputation. I still tell myself this isn’t true, but I had to let go of my fantasies of him seeing the world as I did because he did not. He only listens to himself, not even to his now girlfriend.
    I learned that I needed to be an independent child and be more mature towards my sisters.