Monday, 25 November 2013

Perception - Part One

I have to admit, I had a really distorted view of the world, myself and everyone around me.  This is actually one of the reasons why I had such bad anxiety and depression in the past.  Thankfully, with lots of counseling and changing my view of the world, I have been able to slowly overcome this issue.  However, I have noticed that there are a few people out there who have problems with their perception of themselves and the world, so I thought I would share my thoughts.  I really want to reach out to people and help them.

Firstly, I will give you a bit of an insight into me and how I perceived the world six months ago.  My world was pretty negative.  I thought that no one liked me.  I thought that all of my family, friends and work colleagues didn't really like me that much.  I sometimes use to think that my husband was only with me because I was a pretty accessory that he could have hanging off his arm.  I use to wonder why he married me when so many people didn't like me.

See, when you have depression and anxiety, you tend to focus on the negative around you, which really affects your perception of the people around you and the world.  I have so many crazy examples of how I would think, but I will use two.

The first example is if I would say hello to someone.  If they either didn't respond to me or said hello in a flat or unhappy tone, I would assume that that person was either annoyed with me or didn't like me.  The second example was if I posted a status update on Facebook.  If no one commented on it, it would mean that all 232 friends I had on Facebook didn't like me.  In hindsight, I know that those thoughts were really crazy, but that was how I rolled.  I lived in a very sad and negative world.

Source: Unknown

In my counseling sessions we have been talking a lot about how I perceive myself and the world around me, in particular the people within it.  It was negative, very dark and very sad.  I needed to change it as it was bringing me down.  The first thing I had to stop doing was assuming that everyone didn't like me.  I had to stop analysing EVERYTHING that everyone did as when I did that I always had a negative tone to it.  I also assumed that everything was about me.

For example, saying hello to someone and not getting a response back.  Did the person hear me or was my voice to soft?  Is the person really busy doing something, so they didn't hear me?  Are they in a bad mood because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed?  Or because they had a fight with their partner/parents/friend last night?  There are a million reasons why they might not have said hello and 99.99% of them have nothing to do with me.  If someone doesn't say hello to me, I just need to stop taking it to heart.

And what about the Facebook example?  No one commented on my post.  I bet there are heaps of reasons why no one commented!  What time did I put the comment up?  Did I put it up at a time when most people are having dinner (people are unlikely to respond then)?  Did I put it up in the middle of the night when most people are sleeping?  Is it really fair to assume that just because someone doesn't respond to my post within ten minutes that no one cares?  How did I execute the Facebook status update?  Depending on the language I use will reflect whether or not I get any comments - i.e. questions will generally get more comments then statements.  Did the post even make sense or was it really cryptic?  There are millions of other reasons again and generally all of them have nothing to do with people not liking me or caring about me.

See, what I am trying to say is that we shouldn't assume anything about anyone, as most of the time you get it wrong.  Are you able to read their thoughts?  No.  I can be very sensitive to tone and body language, but I have to learn to push it aside as I sometimes really over analyse it and my perception of things becomes really negative, when really they shouldn't

I think that a good way to over come your negative perceptions of yourself and how others see you is to think of things as if you were in court.  Yes, I am talking about pretending to be a lawyer.  When you present things in court they have to be facts and they have to be true.  No hearsay is allowed.

So, the person who didn't say hello to me, who I assume doesn't like me.  Have they ever said they don't like me?  No.  Is there a possibility that they might not have heard me? Well, yes as there was a lot of noise in the room.  Is there anything else that might explain how they are feeling today?  Well, they seem to have puffy, red eyes, which indicate that they have been crying.  And they did mention that they had a fight with their partner that night.  All of these factors explain why they might have not said hello to you, which has absolutely nothing to do with you or the fact that they may or may not like you.

Being able to let go of people's negative perceptions of you can do wonders to your health.  I am a happier person now.  I have stopped assuming that people don't like me.  I have learnt that I cannot read minds!  People need to physically tell me that they don't like me.  And to be honest, I am not going to care anymore, but I will discuss more about that in another post.

Take care and keep on smiling!!

Lady Lou!

***  Please note, that if you currently feel that way that I use to feel six months ago, i.e. feeling depressed, anxious or really negative about yourself and the world, I strongly recommend that you seek professional treatment.  It will do you the world of good.  I am also happy to provide anyone with details about a good counselor in my local area***

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