How our perception of ourselves can alter meaning
Are you getting to the point?
Your answer to this question will show you which direction your thoughts are running at the moment.
Was your answer something like…
‘Yes, I’m feeling really focused on my goals!’
Or was it more like…
‘Yep, I feel like I can’t go on like this!’
The words in the question are the same but they carry different meaning depending on your mood or your opinion of yourself.
Our perception of what they mean to us and the perception of what they mean to the person who said them can be completely different.
Let’s take the above dialogue and put it in the context of a disagreement between two people in a relationship. One says to the other…
‘Do you know what, I’m really getting to the point…’
Now, the way the other person is feeling will determine how they interpret what has been said to them.
If they are confident they may perceive this unfinished statement to mean that their partner is getting to the heart of their problem.
If they are feeling insecure, however, they may perceive it to mean that their partner has had enough of them.
Let’s take another scenario…
You are at work and your line manager stops you in the corridor and says…
‘Can we meet this afternoon? I need to discuss your sales figures’.
Again, if you are confident in your ability you will be looking forward to this meeting, but imagine the turmoil you will be in if you are less sure of yourself.
Before the meeting there is no evidence to show which view is correct but the confident person will continue their day quite happily whilst the insecure person will become increasingly anxious.
This anxiety could have a negative impact on their performance at the meeting which, if the boss does have bad news, won’t help matters.
So, if you are prone to self-criticism and negative thinking here are some things you can do to change your perception:
- Search for the positive meaning in what has been said.
- Ask yourself what the other possibilities are in a situation in addition to your pessimistic one.
- If you still believe that your initial assessment is correct then work out ways to deal with it.
- Ask for clarification.
Finally, we could all do with being less ambiguous with the language we use. This Mitchell and Webb sketch illustrates this point very well 🙂
Care should be taken when viewing though as it does contain adult humour and definitely should not be watched if young children are in the room! It is very funny though, at least, that is my perception of it!