Freeing myself: The perception of others

Freeing myself: The perception of others

We can find ourselves churning over and over things that people have said or done, or the things that we feel they have neglected to say or do. We may feel hurt or angry by their actions or inactions, their words or their silence. Mostly, we take on board their behaviour, interpret it in the best way we know (with our own background and knowledge), and respond from this perception.

Intellectually, we know that we are all different and that we each have a unique set of experiences, knowledge and awareness that has formed us. There are therefore an infinite number of perceptions and responses about any particular set of events. Despite this, we seem to hold expectations that other people will respond to people and events in the same way that we do, even though their set of experiences, knowledge and awareness is different from ours. We can find that when they fail to live up to our expectations, we feel hurt or angry.

Fortunately, for many situations, we have social norms that guide much of our behaviour so that we can have expectations in relating to others. This makes our interactions fairly predictable and so we come to rely on our expectations of others. When everything goes according to our expectations, we feel comfortable, and we are not alarmed or caught off-guard.

The problem comes when our expectations (or hopes) are not met because of the way that other people have behaved or spoken, or we have interpreted their words and actions with our own perceptions. The more we realise that we have absolutely no control over the actions and words of others, and that their responses are due to their own perceptions, hurts and fears that have arisen from their unique set of experiences, the more we can free ourselves from feeling hurt and angry over the way in which they have responded to us. We certainly do not need to interpret their responses to match our possible feelings of low self-worth.

About Margaret Lambert

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  1. Brilliantly executed Marg! I’m going to send this to mum and know she too will thoroughly enjoy and concur with your perspective

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