The Weight of Perceptions
Breaking the Cycle of Comparison + Rebalancing your Validations.
How often do we surrender our sense of worth, progress, accomplishment, value to the judgment of others? We find ourselves feeling untethered, thrashed around by the highs and lows of an external discernment, struggling to stay our course.
We give excessive weight to the judgments of others, placing its value far above that of our own judgment. As a result, we find ourselves feeling small, insecure, unfulfilled, lost.
We hope the world will perceive us in a specific way; that they will validate a subtle or grandiose narrative we hope to project. We dump our most precious resources into forging this perception, controlling the perceptions of others. We end up in a cycle of people pleasing rather than creating our authentic identity and building our worthy future. It becomes an endless vicious cycle. We will never be able to control the perceptions of others. In part, as we will never know the complexities of their emotional and experiential past. But also, do we even want to?
Have you ever had a moment where someone has “seen” you? Where they have seen a part of you in a way you never realized possible? Seen beauty in what you find grotesque? Joy in what you find tragic? Affirmation in what you find shameful? Those moments where someone’s different perspective completely challenges, and even upends, your self-perception. If we controlled every perception, then life would be devoid of these moments. These touchpoints which break through your narratives and stasis.
We invest so greatly in building these “mirrors,” these façades which we hope desperately the world will accept as the true accounting of our worth. We build them to cover up the cracks which we believe to be shortcomings, offensive imperfections, aspect of ourselves that if they were ever to be see by the world would send anyone who witnessed them running in horror.
To keep these mirrors fueled requires the validation of the outside world. People who fall for the ruse, see the beautiful mirror rather than the true façade beneath, and then tell us how marvellous, wonderful, perfect we are. That snippet of validation fuels the mirror, but it does not last long. It requires constant intake. We begin to compete with those around us for the limited resource of affirmation. There can only be one prettiest, smartest, most successful, etc. So the comparisons begin. “If I am to get affirmation for X, then I must make sure I’m better than A, B, C.” “What are they doing? Is it better than mine?” “Will A judge me for X?”
This cycle robs us of the opportunities to be seen as ourselves, as the beautiful mosaic of experiences, emotional history, bumps and bruises that each of us embodies. For others to see our truth, appreciate us in our full glory and help us to see ourselves in a new way.
More importantly, this cycle diverts us from the true course: from growth, from self-discovery, from our own definitions of success.
We end up selecting motivations, making choices, and taking actions that are in pursuit of someone else’s idea of success, not our own. We end up on a path that we do not love, that doesn’t align with where we want to go and most certainly does not celebrate us.
How do we change this?
We shift the weighted balance we give to perceptions.
On a scale of 100, we do not give the judgment of others 99% of the value and our own only 1%. Instead, we give the majority of the value to our own judgment. Do I feel proud of me? Do I feel happy with this choice? Does this lead me to a place I want to go?
This doesn’t mean we become myopic in the pursuit of our selfish desires and steam roll past the good sense of the world. No. It means we make our own choices, are accountable to our choices and seek the input of others as a sounding board rather than the voice of the judge, jury and executioner.
To anyone who needs to hear this today:
The judgment of others does not define you. You define you.
Stop being small. Stop being afraid to be seen. To be seen as you. To be seen struggling. To be seen failing. To be seen as less. To be judged.
You do not need the mirror, the brave face, the perfect façade, the fronts, the glossy perception, the false layers. All you need in this life is you.
It is your life. Live it as yours and not in the service of judgements.
Your path is your choice.
It’s not about getting it “right,” having universal validation, or a specific perception from the world.
It’s about living it, learning, trying, failing, suceeding, growing, doing it all again and again. As you. For you.
If you want what you have built in the mirror to be true, then focus on building who you are being to match that person. It’s okay if you are not there yet. If you begin step by step building that person, then it will come in its own way. It will take time. Reclaim the resources back from fueling the mirror and redirect them to building you. The real you.
If you want to leave behind a different legacy, embody a different character, or lead a different life, it is yours to build.
You are worthy of time. You are worthy of building. You are worthy of mistakes. You are worthy of experience. You are worthy of being seen.
Enjoy this life you have to live. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy being you.