The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. – John C. Maxwell
The way we carry ourselves and treat others is what helps define who we are and how we are judged in today’s society. In a world where there is a lot of talk and dwindling action, people’s words are becoming more and more meaningless, or at least it appears that way at times. I know there are times when I depart from my office after hours of working on a computer (thankfully I have a standing desk) my eyes and mind take some time to catch up and remind me that I am in the real world. And as I make my way back to my place, I have a bad habit of going deep in thought or having a “stone face”, because a part of me doesn’t want to talk to anyone and putting on a face is my way to avoid interaction. It has gotten to the point I have some of my coworkers saying, “You look so serious all the time” or “You never say hello”, and I think to myself this is not me at all. But it is the perception of people around me, especially at work. This perception troubles me, because the last thing I want people to think is that I am not approachable if they have a problem. Most of the time, I chalk it up to being exhausted. And that’s partly true. Still it bothers me when I reflect on it later. As I shared in one of my past writings, I have a bad habit of being a “people pleaser” at times. This stems from trying to help people and attempting to bring a little positive change to the world around us, starting with my relationships. This is a trait I have come to grips with and attempt to build into my character, turning it into a strength.
What I find to be most unfortunate is that there is little that can be done to change perception except action. Through my actions, I hope to change how the world around me perceives me, and to show people who I am and what’s in my heart. The classes I give at work, informing others about what our office does and how they can help the community at large, are a way for me to effect action. I give swift and precise answers to questions posed to me. And I hope through that I project professionalism and helpfulness. I do my best to offer help by listening to and understanding others. That is how I want to effect positive change in people’s perceptions of me through action.
Throughout our lives, we often hear “Never judge a book by its cover.” What I have seen in human interaction is that the first impression is always the strongest impression. Think about the first time you met someone and you will always remember your first impression of them. And yet, people who you would think are rude or arrogant later become your friend. Or someone who was very friendly in the beginning later becomes someone you would rather not be around. Perception is everything and altering that can prove to be a tricky endeavor. Personally speaking, I like the old phrase “Kill them with kindness,” meaning I counter someone’s negative attitude with kindness. Never underestimate the power of love. Or if someone is being angry and aggressive, I try to diffuse the situation by keeping calm, that way I come off as calm, cool, and collected. While the aggressor is coming off as cross and hostile. People are by design social creatures and will take note of your actions and will perceive you based on them. Taking the right course of action can lead to a more favorable outcome and can help change their perception of you.
If you are unhappy with the way people perceive you, do not just accept that. If your mind is constantly dwelling on what people around you think about you, pause and reassess your priorities. Accept that people are different in how they perceive everyone else. Because if you don’t, then you will not stop thinking about it and it will just keep eating at you. Do not accept the fact you cannot achieve your full potential. That type of mentality is a weakness and is toxic to your head and heart. Cleanse your mind of those irrational thoughts or find positive outlets that will help cultivate your talents. Take it from someone who understands the uncertainty and difficulty. Only accept the perception around you, if it brings you that contentment we are always hoping to find.
Not letting the adversary win:
Taking action is easier said than done for some people. We live in a society where you can post something on social media which you are proud of, and yet it just takes one hater to bring you down or make your accomplishment feel like nothing. These people have the ability to do it remotely and not directly to your face, which is what hurts the most. I cannot count the number of times I have seen bullies or haters turn something positive on social media into a complete mess. For some people it just destroys their motivation and leaves a deep emotional scar. These bullies create a negative perception of ourselves inside our minds that affects both our heads and our heart. They look to belittle others for the sake of making others miserable, because they themselves are miserable. Cowardly attacking others from the comfort of home and behind keyboard in itself tells you the type of person they are. So, if you are reading this and experience bullying or negativity that is just crushing your motivation or getting inside your head, you are not alone. But the Hopeful Nihilist has to say to you, don’t let these cowards win. Do not let these bullies snuff out that fire which burns bright inside in your heart and soul. You are worth more than you could ever imagine, so keep creating, and keep inspiring others who support you. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “People only see what they are prepared to see.” So be prepared to show up and be yourself. Be pleased about who you are to begin with and everything else will follow. (Never underestimate the power of love).