I remember asking my favourite question (how much someone would rate their looks out of 10) to a high achiever with nagging self-doubts. Back came the reply that it would be "Only six" because he was "not as good looking as Tom Cruise or Richard Gere".
But I did not compare him to those actors. He did. I asked him a simple question about his perception of himself. It was his own low perception of his value and his impossible standard of comparing himself to others with whom he has little connection, using a narrow standard of acceptability, which was keeping him from fully appreciating how wonderful he was too.
Many people of low esteem have a negative perception. This encourages them to live their lives comparing themselves to others in a futile and unrealistic way, instead of valuing themselves with all their imperfections and acknowledging their own uniqueness and strengths. Not surprisingly, they will never feel good about themselves against such impossible yardsticks, neither will others feel good around them either.
The true essence of personal perception and its individual bias becomes obvious in the notion of leadership. There is the tendency to believe that leaders lead and followers follow and that we are effective and efficient leaders (using current benchmark as a guide). But our intended followers may have a very different perception of what leadership should be. We might think we are leading but very few people might be following! It does not matter whose perception is 'right'. What does matter is that we perceive and we believe. Perception is the truth in our reality. That's all we have. The fact that people can perceive the same thing differently must therefore become an integral part of the decision-making process for all workplaces, and also be fully acknowledged in the domestic routine.
In short, if a person perceives a certain situation relating to him/her, that will be the only perception which will be initially accepted, not the perception of another, and this has huge implications for social interactions, workplaces and relationships. We cannot impose our own perception on others as their reality. That only leads to confusion, anger, resentment and a feeling of not being heard or valued. The truth of any situation has to be negotiated according to individual perceptions. To ignore the importance of this perceptual process in our lives is to ignore a major determinant of all behaviour which is at the root of much misunderstanding (in relationships), much prejudice (in interactions) and discrimination (in work and society).
Our value of anything in life, especially our bodies, depends purely on how we perceive it. How it appears to us, not to anyone else. That is why it is so difficult to convince anyone of anything when they genuinely cannot 'see' it for themselves.
By the way, if he had asked me that question, my reply would have been '11'! :o)
How do you actually see yourself? Try this quiz and see.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2012
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Happiness is a state of being. We are the ones who decide whether we wish to be happy or not, by the script we use inside our heads."