This morning my day started out with an argument that I couldn't wrap my head around until I realized that it had nothing to do with me at all. The argument wasn't about me and my actions, it was about the other person's perception of my intent when I took those actions (which for anyone who has ever taken a psychology class knows, is a hard thing to overcome).
How do you address someone else's perception of what your intentions are??? The simple answer is you don't.
"Perception is reality". Or so my Psychology teachers told us.
Except, that isn't true. Perception is not reality. It's only a small part of each persons reality and it isn't always about that person it's directed towards.
Because your reality isn't correct.
My reality isn't correct.
NO ONES IS!
We all think that how we see the world is correct because we have this bias based on our lives, our beliefs, and our morals. However if everyone thinks they are correct then no one is actually correct.
I know my reality of the world is just that, MY reality.
So when people tell me I'm wrong, I don't feel insulted or angry, I ask them to explain. Maybe I am wrong, maybe what I think is close-minded. So tell me why you think I'm wrong. Explain to me how your perception of the situation is better, different or even just more accurate than mine. If you can't do this then, for the most part, I don't believe you when you say I'm incorrect.
This morning the 'perception' someone else had of me was that I was a cruel, petty individual who was out to make them feel stupid (I wasn't, in fact, it hadn't even occurred to me that someone who knows me would think I could ever be that kind of a person). I thought about this for a while and realized that this isn't my issue. I have no control over how anyone sees me. None of us does. People are going to judge us based on their own perceptions and we can't control or change that.
We can, of course, try to be good people and not harm others, but ultimately how people feel about us is out of our control.
About 13 years ago I met a woman who changed my life. She was an instructor I had in college who told me one day (in big, bold, black letters on the white board)…….
"WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF YOU IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS"
She was right of course, but it took me years to fully comprehend the meaning of that statement.
This morning was a reminder of exactly that.
How that other person felt/what they thought about me is none of my business. If they want to see me as petty, bitter, cruel or just mean spirited then that's up to them. I have no control over that. I don't own that, they do.
We are only in control of ourselves.
Every time someone assumes you're an asshole, don't own that (unless of course you've purposefully been an asshole). You don't need to own how they feel. You own your actions and nothing more.
I read a book last year that a friend had suggested I check out. It talked about how we control our own happiness and that ultimately (after a certain age) you have no one to blame for the life you have but yourself. The theory is you can only control you. Nothing else.
You control your actions. You control your thoughts and feelings. You control your response to the world, no one else. The same theory applies to perception and how others see you. You can only control yourself, your actions, not theirs.
So choose to see the world however you want and don't worry about how others see you, because in the end, you have to be okay with you and no one else.