Have you ever had someone accuse you of behaving in such a way you knew wasn’t accurate, or at least you thought wasn’t true?
For example, as a quiet introvert I often don’t have a lot of words when I’m around people. I also don’t show excessive emotion very frequently. People often wonder if there is something wrong when I don’t say a lot. Sometimes, they think I’m not enjoying an activity or don’t like a gift because I’m not very expressive. Their perception doesn’t line up with reality. However, I understand why they might come to those conclusions.
Dealing with perception is one of the hardest things to wade through in this world. Reality may not matter one bit, if you cannot change a person’s perception of a matter. I have found myself tied up in knots before trying to make myself understood. It’s so frustrating knowing your own motivations, then being accused of otherwise.
This past week the internet went crazy with articles about how the Hello Kitty Sanrio character is not a cat, but a girl. The articles I read went on to say that Hello Kitty is a girl named Kitty White who has a twin sister named Mimmy. She was born in London, not Japan as many would think. She likes to bake and collect things.
People went crazy. How could a character with whiskers and pointy ears not be a cat? By the explanation provided in the articles, Mickey Mouse would not be a mouse.
In the past few days, Wikipedia has been updated at least twice since the original statement came out. They have now clarified that Hello Kitty is not simply a cat or a girl, but a personification of a cat. That I can buy.
I use this example to remind us all that the facts must add up. We all enter relationships with our own frame of reference. We bring with us insecurities, and various types of personalities. All of this creates a recipe for many opportunities for misunderstandings.
Another example is a person who struggles with an eating disorder. What they see in the mirror does not measure up to reality. One young college girl I spoke to said that every time she looked in the mirror, all she saw was someone too overweight. After friends and family expressed concern and she looked at the actual numbers of her weight, BMI, and other physical factors she finally began to realize that her perception wasn’t reality. Visual processing is a problem associated with these kind of illnesses. How frustrating to not be able to rely on one’s eyes! What seems like fact is not true, so the person is left to deal with the perception.
We need to try our best to avoid jumping to conclusions about people. And when people incorrectly evaluate our motives, we need to take into consideration their own hang-ups and personality.
If you are accused of something you know to not be true, then gather some facts. Look inside at your own motivation. Talk to others close to you and get their feedback. Consider the source and try to figure out if there might be something clouding their viewpoint. Sometimes people simply need a little reassurance. You may not be able to change someone else’s perception, but at least you can work to understand it. Finally, you may have to be content knowing your motivations are pure, regardless of how they are perceived. This is one reason good communication is so vitally important.
I’ll sleep better at night now knowing Hello Kitty is at least sort of a cat!
“Studies have shown that 90% of error in thinking is due to error in perception. If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas.” Edward de Bono
Picture from picgifs.com