Perception is everything….or is it?

Graphic that says Perception is everything

This was my motto for a very long time. And in certain situations, I still believe that it serves me well, but is it EVERYTHING?

Growing up, whenever I left the house, my mom always told me to behave. As I grew older and into my teens, my twisted mind shifted this into meaning it was ok to misbehave when I was at home. This wasn’t at all true or the message my mom was trying to send, but as I became a wife and mother, I began to realize that at the heart of it, this statement really is true.

Allow me to explain.

My husband has a favorite t-shirt that he wears around the house just about every weekend. It is just a simple, gray cotton t-shirt that has faded over time and the fabric is thinning. If he fails to change this t-shirt before he leaves the house, I go CRAZY! I find myself telling him, “You can’t leave the house like that. It is a reflection on my job as a wife!” He, of course, rolls his eyes and ignores my pleas, as I silently pray that we don’t run into anyone we know.

With the same intensity, as my son was growing up, I would inform him that he should be on his best behavior when he left the house also letting him know that it was a reflection on my parenting skills. Just as his dad does, he would roll his eyes and give me the “Oh, okay mom” look and be on his way.

Now, interestingly enough, I don’t see a disheveled man or misbehaving child and automatically think, “WOW….they are obviously at the hands of a really horrible wife and mother!” And I doubt that the majority of you do either. So, why do we worry about what others think so much?

By definition, perception is a single awareness derived from a sensory process while the stimulus is present. Simply put, the impression others have of you, the situation, a place, etc. at that moment in time.

If you are interviewing for a job, you want your perspective employer to have a perception of you that you are professional, would do a good job, be an asset to the company, etc. If you are going on a date with a possible love interest, you want them to perceive you as someone they would want to get to know and spend more time with.

But if my husband leaves the house with a faded gray t-shirt on should I care if he is seen by somebody we know? Or if my son throws a fit in the grocery store, should my first thought be “Oh no, what is everyone else thinking about me as a wife and mother?” Of course not! But it is, isn’t it?

Much of the time, what we perceive of others and the perception that others have of us is wrong. We assume that so many of history’s well known millionaires achieved their wealth over night or that the celebrity we follow on Facebook or Instagram has the perfect life. Many times we could not be farther from the truth. The same is true of what others perceive of our lives.

Take comfort in knowing that someone else’s perception of you is largely out of your control. They bring with them their past experiences, current mood, likes and dislikes, distractions, etc. If you have a tattoo and an individual doesn’t like tattoos, chances are they won’t like you or they will at least be apprehensive about getting to know you.

There is also a good chance they don’t have the entire story. They aren’t aware that the tattoo represents your favorite inspirational symbol or that it signifies you survived a difficult time in your life. But they don’t like tattoos. Perception developed. DONE.

Remember the following when you become aware of someone’s misguided perception of you.

  1. Know who you are! If you are living by your own values and know what’s important to you, that is all that matters.
  2. Do You! Shake up the status quo a bit! It’s time to stop caring about what others think!
  3. Put yourself out there. Do one thing that makes you feel uncomfortable every day. This will strengthen your self-confidence as well.
  4. And finally, let’s face it. We aren’t that special to the general population. If someone on the street sees that your child is throwing a fit, they may give you a dirty look, grumble a bit, and move on. They aren’t thinking about you 5 minutes later and they probably didn’t even notice the t-shirt your husband had on.

I challenge you, today, to push the thought of “What will others think of me” out of your head. Replace it with, “I’m awesome and others think so too!” So go ahead, sing and dance in your car when you are stopped at the stop light, wear that not so trendy outfit or faded t-shirt, have an opinion that is not of the masses, and especially…..


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