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Is Your Perception Accurate?
My younger sister has had Multiple Sclerosis for about three decades. Her health has declined so that she has been in a wheelchair for the past eleven years. In August she was airlifted to ICU because of a seizure that signaled progression of the illness. I took a week off to be at her side.
On the first day that I was with her husband and son, I cried and said, "I feel so badly that I have had such a good life and she has had such a horrible life". The reply that I received as not what I expect. In fact, I was shocked to hear my brother-in-law say, "That's exactly what Deb would say about you!" Apparently, she thinks that I have had a horrible life and she was the one who was blessed.
You see, we are so extremely different from each other. I have four university degrees and love to read. She wouldn't read if her life depending upon it! Deb always played as hard as I worked. She was the farm girl and I the "city slicker". You couldn't have ever met two more different individuals who shared the same parents.
Perception is so personal and often can be deceiving.
I am thankful that there were times in life when I couldn't see what was coming around the corner because I just might not have wanted to face it. But every experience brought with it a lesson.
There were other times when I have looked back and wondered how I managed to get through certain things. But I did!
There are times when we think that we "have it together" and others might strongly disagree. Think of teenage years when we thought we knew everything. There are other times when we think we are not able to carry on and yet others see only strength and view us as role-models.
Thomas Cooley in Inscriptions: Prairie Poetry states "I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am". Sounds complicated but makes sense. My perception is based on what I imagine you are thinking about me.
Well, using that theory, I guess I had it totally wrong when it came to understanding what my sister thought about me. I assumed that she thought I was blessed but now realize that she thought she was the one who was blessed. And she made the same mistake in guessing the perceptions that I have had about her.
Are you holding onto perceptions about yourself or others that aren't accurate? Are you assuming that someone holds a perception about you or themselves that is accurate? Have you talked with that person about what they think and feel? Are you being honest about your perceptions?
Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a conversation with your family and friends about this. You might, like me, learn something that will totally surprise you!
About the Author
Dr. Hancock has written a regular weekly column entitled “All Psyched Up” for newspapers in two Canadian provinces for more than a dozen years...