Living our lives and learning throughout them on this Earth is an incredible experience. Each of us have our own unique journeys in which we approach all differently based on our perceptions and understanding of what goes on around us.
Being Sensitive and Choosing How to Respond to All the Input
I have always been a sensitive person. Sensitive to noise, sensitive to light, attentive to the world around me and things could always easily affect me. Growing up, this wasn’t really a pleasant thing. I didn’t see the good in it, I was purely just affected by it. But as I’ve gotten older, I can see that it has been a blessing. It allows me to really observe and deeply process the information that’s constantly going on around me. However, when I was younger, I didn’t really have the tools required to be able to choose how I wanted to respond to all of this input. It simply just hit me, and if it was negative input from someone or something, it would affect me negatively and that was that.
This at times created self-esteem issues or fears that would cause me to doubt myself. And this can easily spread to other things — second-guessing your own abilities in almost anything. Then if it goes on for too long without resolution, these habits of self-doubt, fear, and low self-esteem can become more thoroughly etched in our brains; more permanent. I realized this is what stifles people’s growth and causes so many people to build up walls around them, or to see the world more negatively and act out of fear. They don’t learn to believe in their own potential.
The world CAN be very negative, painful, and difficult…but ultimately it is us holding onto this negative, fearful outlook that will hurt us more than anything else.
Luckily for me, I grew out of most of these negative thought patterns (having an anxiety disorder didn’t help). It took quite a while.
Dealing with People’s Judgments
If people said something in particular about me based on their perceptions, or judged me in some way, the first thing that hit my mind would NEVER be that it was their problem. I automatically assumed that if they were saying it, it must be for a reason. And maybe it was. But I never really looked at (or saw) the root cause of why they were saying what they were saying. This put me through more emotional pain, so to speak, because it caused me to really analyze myself and see if what they were saying had truth to it. I literally faced it and absorbed it, and thought about it deeply.
I don’t think this is a bad thing either; as I think it’s important to keep our minds open. Someone who never looks at themselves or their own potential faults will not grow in awareness. They won’t become closer to really understanding themselves.
However, it is also very important to understand that most often, the way people see you is completely limited by how they perceive the world in general.
Most of us have limited/stifled our potential in one way or another — and it’s usually never wholly our own fault. It so easily gets stifled over our lives by potentially how we are raised, the expectations and pressures that might be placed us, getting overly fixated on money and letting that drive our actions. Or just by negative experiences and fears, or their own judgments of what they think is right or wrong.
Lately what has been sticking out in my mind is that over the course of my life to date, so many times I could feel that someone had a certain perception of me and I never really looked at it objectively. I always gave it perhaps more credit than it deserved. However, this was always something subtle and unmentioned — for example, if someone had said to me “you’re really stupid,” in that case I certainly wouldn’t have believed them. These were not obvious judgments or statements made, and they weren’t always negative. It was simply just the reflection of their own worldview projected on to me that became apparent through the natural dynamic of our relationship.
It was clear that they didn’t understand me for who I really was.
And I think more often than not, this is often the case for most relationships we might have, to varying degrees. And if we don’t know ourselves deeply, we’ll never be able to detect when someone’s perception of us is off. Especially because this is often just a subtle thing. We get lost in our own misperceptions, which are made worse by others’ misperceptions, and can get lost in a maze and may stray farther away from who we really are.
People’s Perception of You Has More to do with Them Than With You
Every once in a while I come upon that quote on the internet that says, “people see you as THEY are.” I never fully understood this until recently, to be honest. But it is so completely true: People so often project their own fears or negativity or even the nature of their own self on to you. People who make assumptions about you or judge you are often doing so because that is what lies in their own hearts, NOT because it has anything to do with you.
And the answer to this is not to judge them back. You can limit contact, but don’t hold negativity in your own heart, because in the end, negative thoughts will only do you harm. It is best to just pray or hope that someday they are able to rise above their own stifling thoughts and habits.
We must work on becoming more mindful of how we respond to the outside world. Even though it’s often not easy, we can choose our battles; we can choose how we respond. People assume that because they are interacting with other humans most of the time, that that’s who the battles are fought with — like it is us against them. This is never the case. The more we act out of fear, violence, vengefulness, and so on, the more we close our own hearts and are affected in the long run.
“War within ourselves is always a prelude to war outside ourselves. All war starts within our own hearts. When our egos are inflated or our desires insatiable, we go to war with the other for the sad joy of maintaining our one-dimensional worlds.”
― Joan D. Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today
“NOTE TO SELF – BOOMERANG EFFECT
My words, thoughts and deeds have a boomerang effect.
So be-careful what you send out!”
― Allan Rufus, The Master’s Sacred Knowledge
“Very often in everyday life one sees that by losing one’s temper with someone who has already lost his, one does not gain anything but only sets out upon the path of stupidity. He who has enough self-control to stand firm at the moment when the other person is in a temper, wins in the end. It is not he who has spoken a hundred words aloud who has won; it is he who has perhaps spoken only one word.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan, Mastery through Accomplishment
The best way to deal with these things is to surround ourselves with good, positive people. And in them sometimes we might see a reflection of some of your own goodness.
In life, the only judgement that we carry forward is our own. So do what you think is right.