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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Making Perception Match the Changed Self

Your Own Perception Can Be More Enemy Than Friend

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last decade or two undoing a lot of my early conditioning and beliefs. I truly like the me I’ve become in the process, but didn’t realize I’d skipped a huge step in my internal renovations. While I’d changed how I presented myself to the word, and shown more of my perfectly imperfect self, I’d failed to alter my thinking regarding how others perceived me.

In other words, deep inside, I still believed people saw me as the reserved, closed off woman who never let anyone see her flaws, and as a result was unapproachable and cold. Though I’ve been enjoying the connection with other people, I had yet to truly believe others saw me as someone they looked forward to seeing, or felt comfortable with. The job of becoming a warmer, more compassionate person was only half done because I was unable to see how much I’d changed not only in how I felt about me, but in how others saw me too.

Realization began to dawn when I did one of those personality games on Facebook. The result I got is in the image. I shared it with the comment “this one made me laugh”. To my surprise, a woman I’d met in the last year or so commented that she agreed with the result. Not  only that, she said I put her at ease. Of course, I was touched, but I was also stunned. Someone feels comfortable with me, and thinks I put them at ease? How can that be? My inner voice started clamoring.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Someone else I only get to see occasionally told me they always look forward to seeing me, and made it clear we have a connection that goes both ways. Wow! It seems I’ve been so focused on my inner work, I’d completely missed seeing how much it was becoming a part of my outer self as well.

Letting Others Decide What They Think

I realize you never really know how you’re perceived unless someone comes out and tells you, Created with Canvabut it’s become abundantly clear I haven’t learned to believe people are truly and honestly happy to see me and include me in their lives. I’ve been so used to being on the outskirts of any group, or worse, tolerated, I failed to recognize it was no longer true. Deep down, I’m still waiting for that moment when I say or do something wrong, and am back on the outside looking in.

There’s a position on the Celtic Cross Tarot spread I’ve used for years entitled “how others see you”. I’m learning I have a lot of work to do as far as reading this one correctly. My inner child spent long years believing she could never belong; that she was destined to be an outsider for the rest of her life.

It didn’t matter how many positive changes I made. They would all be for me, and would go unnoticed, even by those I called “friend”; not because I was still trying to fit in instead of being myself, but because I’d falsely accepted a role as an outsider, and never realized I’d been projecting my insecurities and false beliefs on the people around me. Just as I’ll occasionally hear an inner dialogue where someone I see is viewing all my imperfections with disgust, when they’re likely thinking nothing of the sort, and probably, aren’t aware of me at all, I put thoughts based on my lifelong insecurities into the unknowing, unwilling minds of my friends and acquaintances.

Learning to Set Judgement Aside

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4While I’m honored, blessed, and grateful for what is clearly a much more positive impact than I gave myself credit for, I’m a bit ashamed for misjudging the people I started attracting when I stopped trying so hard to fit in, and began letting them see who and what I truly am.

Like everything else in life, I know things happen for a reason, and in their own time. This is no chicken and egg situation. I had to make the changes in myself first. The next step is learning to believe the effort I’ve put into making those changes is clearly visible to those who’ve given me a chance to not only be my authentic self, but to belong for the first time in my life. In truth, I need to have a lot more faith in the people who are in my world now by choice. Not one of them is the cruel, unhappy person I used to attract, not because I found comfort there, but because I attracted what fit my own self-image.

Given the Chance, People Will Surprise You

In the past, I was constantly surprised (and not pleasantly) by how mean and hurtful people could be. Today, the people I know and love surprise me with the depths of compassion and acceptance they constantly exhibit without hesitation or prejudice.

I’m still fumbling around; dismissing some who deserve my compassion and openness, trusting some who don’t. I’m working hard to be more trusting and accepting. I feel better about myself, and frankly, the amount of damage those who don’t deserve my trust can do these days is minimal, and easily cast off. I know their unkindness is a reflection of their own pain, and is neither personally directed at me, nor even conscious all the time. I keep my bucket of imaginary heart- or star-shaped confetti handy for those people, and administer it abundantly.

I’m also working on that inner dialogue that erroneously sees others remarking on those flaws to which I continue to give overmuch credit in my own head. I’m learning no matter how much you do to change your beliefs of yourself, the job isn’t complete until you stop allowing yourself to believe others still see the person you used to be. Sometimes, that’s the toughest change of all.

 

Looking at the World With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who offer feedback which debunks my own mistaken beliefs.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who are attracted to the new, authentic person I’ve worked so hard to become.
  3. I’m grateful for being proven wrong.
  4. I’m grateful for a warm, loving, compassionate community which opened its arms to me without judgement, reservations, or expectations.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, compassion, lessons, dancing, energy, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, peace, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Faulty Self-Perception

Insides Show Outside

In recent years, I’ve been accused of being “buttoned up” or “uptight”; even “conservative”. All adjectives I’d never have attributed to my tendency to live by my own rules. Sure, I typically wore my hair pulled back from my face and favored loose, baggy clothes to hide (or at least try to) my corpulent self. But that wasn’t being conservative. It was being comfortable, right?

Hair dangling in my face while I work is annoying, and dangling in wet, drippy strands in my face while I dance is disgusting. It never occurred to me that there might be an alternative. Besides, when I was younger, I’d told myself I was using my hair to hide in uncomfortable situations like crowds and places full of strangers.

Small Changes Yield Unexpected Results

In the last couple of weeks, I decided to launch an experiment. I started wearing my hair down, either a just-washed mass of curls or flat-ironed to eliminate the resulting frizz caused by pulling a brush through said curls. For some reason, I also started wearing lipstick regularly, usually a dark burgundy or brown, depending on my clothing.

What I expected was either nothing or maybe a passing comment or two about looking different. What I got was something else entirely; something unexpected and a little overwhelming. If you’d asked me before I began my experiment what I thought the results would be, what I’m seeing now wouldn’t have even made the top 100.

People I barely know are stopping to pay me compliments! People I know are using adjectives I’d never attribute to myself in a million years. The weight I’ve lost so far which, for the most part has gone unnoticed is suddenly visible and being remarked upon regularly. The change I’d made last summer to my hair color is suddenly new. What the heck? Just because I took the clips out of my hair and let it hang loose around my face or curl wildly, untethered and free?

What Does It All Mean?

My analytical side could no longer be contained. It had to step in and try to figure out what caused such an overwhelming flood of positive feedback. And I came to the conclusion that those earlier remarks had merit. Pulling my hair back was simply an outward expression of my need to be in control at all times. It told people I wasn’t allowing myself to just be in the moment, allowing myself to, as we used to say, “go with the flow”.

It seems I’m also more approachable. People strike up conversations with me out of nowhere. They introduce themselves to me and invite me to join in their wild, abandoned fun. I think I’ve shared more hugs in the last couple of weeks than I did in the previous year.

Who knew that letting down my hair literally would unleash so much more beneath the surface?

One Successful Experiment Leads to Another…and Another…and Another

The results of my experiment have raised a lot more questions. What else am I communicating by my actions and appearance? How else am I inhibiting myself and my progress, not only on a personal level but on a creative, professional one?

At one time or another, we all struggle with things like self-sabotage, negative self-talk and so many things which keep us from living life to the fullest. We might not be able to figure out what we’re doing wrong, and yet, I’m finding we need only look to our own outward behavior to find clues. How we present ourselves to the world is simply an expression of how we feel about ourselves inside.

I’ve learned there are many ways of hiding in a crowd. Certainly, letting a curtain of hair shield us from others is one way, but avoiding participating in conversations, sticking an electronic device in our face (all too common these days), or shielding so thoroughly that we are essentially invisible are all effective. Despite my propensity for relative minimalism (body type considered) in my dance attire, I’m finding it’s still possible to be relatively unnoticed in the crowd. Wrap that personal bubble of energy around yourself, and the illusion of anonymity is complete.

Clearing our Reality of Misconceptions

Funny, this all started with conversations about how I only got asked to dance by the men who already know me. Other women I spoke with who experience the same thing agreed that we just didn’t fit the “type” men who relied entirely on visuals were looking for, even as a dance partner.

Yet since I’ve let my hair down, the invitations have increased. Not an onslaught, certainly, but one here, and one there. So I’ve concluded that it isn’t as much about whether you’re tall or short, fat or thin, blonde, brunette, or redhead, or any other exterior factor. It has more to do with whether you’re approachable. Which leads me to conclude that men aren’t as simple as women want to believe (not all of them anyway). It isn’t just about what you look like. It’s also about how you make them feel about walking up and asking you to dance or just saying hello.

Learning a Lesson Gives Us Tools for the Next One

What I haven’t gotten down yet is being able to strike up a conversation after that initial dance, and unfortunately, that’s what leads to more invitations.

My natural tendency would be to retreat again and beat myself up for not being able to accomplish the whole package in one fell swoop, but I’ve learned in the last few years that most things are accomplished with baby steps. So the hair will stay down, the lipstick will stick and I’ll watch some of my friends and acquaintances who are good at striking up conversations. I’m good at watching people. It’s time to put that skill to use as a learning tool instead of just a place to find characters for my stories.

With Each Lesson Comes Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for experiments which yield unexpected but highly motivating results.
  2. I am grateful I’m learning how to accept compliments instead of just giving them.
  3. I am grateful for the upcoming Thanksgiving feast, even if the guest list is a bit larger than we’d planned. Feeding people is always such a joyous thing, and overflowing my house will put lots of love in my walls for awhile.
  4. I am grateful for reconnecting with my family and the members who’ve been added in the 20 years I’ve been away.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friends, family, health, harmony, peace, connections, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, joy, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be.

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Mitya Ku via Flickr

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