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perception on perception.

Fucking perception. I’m not a fan of the word. Or should I say I’m not a fan of my perception of perception – hold tight I feel this one will confuse us all!

The definition of perception; the way you think about or understand someone or something; the ability to understand or notice something easily; the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses.

Because you perceive something one way does that make it fact? Because someone perceives something you have done or said one way does that mean their perception is correct?

Perception is no more or no less than a biproduct of your own life events that dictate how you feel when faced with certain situations. It is what you believe to be the situation, from your experiences, how you would feel, without knowing it for certain.

With Anxiety, comes overthinking, overthinking can lead to some very warped perceptions.
Without the ability to kick in your logic in some situations you pretty much think the world hates you and you are most certainly going to die from picking up milk from the local Four Square.

What I have learnt over time is that your perception can be really off base – sometimes not, but hey give the facts a chance first before you start picking your funeral song.

When someone gives you an answer that is different from what you are expecting, you wouldn’t (or better, shouldn’t) assume they are incorrect, more so try and understand that they may be looking at the world from a different point of view.

Let’s say your colleagues are in the lunchroom, everyone is in there and they are whispering, you walk in to heat up your lunch – the room goes silent and no one looks you in the eye. You are awkward at the best of times but now you are awkward with sweaty palms and trying to work out how you are going to pay rent because everyone hates you, you’re going to lose your job because you have done something so terrible, and they all know and now my dog and I must live out of the car.

But wait a second… what terrible thing did I do? You start wracking your brain to work out where you went wrong and come up blank, you are quiet for the afternoon while you replay every conversation you have ever had with everyone in that room. It follows you home where, again, you are quiet. Your partner then jumps on the perception band wagon and due to your mood assumes you are angry at him/her. To make matters worse, when they ask if anything is wrong you say ‘No’ but it’s written all over your face. How do you put into words that you are overinternalising a situation you actually have no idea about – sounds stupid when you say it out loud hey?

It’s clear now everyone really does hate you. You hardly sleep a wink as you delve deeper and deeper into the day’s events and how this has led you to being homeless. You wake up late the following morning and hurry to get ready for work – heck why rush, you’re already going to lose your job today. Which is a shame because it’s your birthday and no one loves a breakup and a job loss on their birthday. You arrive at work, drag your feet into your office to find your office is filled with balloons, streamers, confetti, happy birthday signs, gifts and a delicious looking Hummingbird cake. The most Birthdayest Birthday decorations you can imagine.

They were whispering about your fucking birthday.

In your past you’ve had trust issues and people you care about have let you down. Your perception, based on your own life events, was to assume because they stopped talking it must have been something negative. It was not, not even close.

Now you must apologise to your partner, hope he’ll laugh it off with you and not dump your crazy. Call the homeless shelters to take your name off the waiting list and unpack the blankets that you’d planned on keeping you warm at night from the trunk of your car. What a shit show that was. Yum cake!

An extreme example but you get where I’m coming from (I hope).

Get facts, ask questions, have hard conversations. It’s always worth it. Don’t sit back and assume you have someone sorted based on your perception of them.

Maybe they are dealing with something they are not ready to talk about? Maybe they are unwell? Maybe they’re just a prick, but stop creating your own perception of a person, a situation or any other perceptionable thing that you can have a perception on. If it doesn’t affect you, mind your business. If they seem angry or sad, smile – see if they need help. Heck try a joke. No reaction? No harm done.

That woman you’ve dubbed a bitch based on her, perceived, cold attitude and bottomless frown lines has been through more pain and heartbreak in her life than you can even fathom. She doesn’t want to talk to me clearly, she is not a good person. It takes everything she has to get out of bed and come to work everyday. She won’t talk to me – cow. No she doesn’t want to talk, she wants to do her job, she doesn’t want to share her pain, she’s too tired to make small talk in the hallway.
While you are making her day harder, she’s thinking about the second job she will be working tonight to provide for her elderly parents and 4 kids under the age of 10. She lost her husband and oldest child in a car accident three years ago which she witnessed and still has PTSD. Her youngest son is in a wheelchair – he was also in the accident, and she spends all her spare time fighting ACC for the medical attention he needs. OK this story is making me emotional now so I’ll stop before I end up with real tears over a completely made up story. My point is you don’t know, and until you do – no judgement, none, zip, not required thank you.

We need to stop and learn to appreciate and understand different perspectives. The world wouldn’t be where it is today without them. Okay not the best example given the state of the world.

The next time someone gives you a different perspective than yours, ask questions, try and understand where they are coming from. You are not always right. I am not always right. But we may be able to meet in the middle? If not – at least you tried to see someone else’s perspective, and highly likely learned something in doing so.

P – Perception = This is how I perceive this situation
R – Read further = Where could this be coming from? Are there any other factors to consider?
I – Investigate = Ask questions? Try and understand where they are coming from.
C – Conclusion = Once you have collated all the information, you’ll find your conclusion.
K – Kindness = Whether you were right or wrong in your presumptions, be kind.

And if all the above fails maybe your first perception was correct and they really were just a prick!

We know we can control our perception of other people and external situations but what about how you control peoples perception of you?

You can’t.

But if you’re not doing anything wrong, who gives a shit?

Stay true to yourself and don’t be a prick.


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