The last few days have been weird for me.
Well, you see, this blog is really starting to take off and I’m suddenly interacting with a lot of new people in ways I’d never anticipated. It’s awesome, but also really weird. And, being me, that feeling has made me do a lot of thinking.
At the forefront of this malestrom of thoughts is an idea that can be perfectly summed up in a tweet from a couple of days ago. I’ll show you:
Perceptions are weird. People on here think they follow a blogger that writes about thoughtful things on the internet but what they’ve actually got is a random dude in a beanie who has to actively work to not tweet welding metaphors all day. Weird.— Ian Weir (@ianweirwriter) February 17, 2021
Weird, right? I think it’s so strange that people often see us in a way that’s completely from how we see ourselves. So I figured I’d write about it.
Now, originally, I’d planned on examining that idea and then using the contrasting viewpoints to discuss being mindful when dealing with those around us. My thought was that, by examining our feelings toward ourselves, we could find a way to be more lenient with others. But I couldn’t do it. The words just wouldn’t come.
That’s because I was approaching the idea from the wrong angle.
So, welcome to post version 2.0. It’s strictly about how we perceive ourselves.
Now, as I was trying to write that first post, I kept coming back to the story of the above Tweet. In relation to the blog, I really do see myself as just some guy who thinks a lot and writes about those thoughts during his breaks at work. But as I kept thinking I came to this question: “How do I actually see myself?”
Well, overall, I think I’m pretty cool. I have a quick, sarcastic sense of humor, I love my family, and I’m loyal to a fault when I care about someone or something.
But wait, there’s that word.
Man, I have a lot of those. I have a quick temper. I carry a lot of anger that I don’t know quite how to deal with. I can be a little (or a lot) arrogant. I have an annoying body image problem and very low self-esteem. Honestly, the list of problems I can find with myself goes on for much, much longer than a similar list of good things. And that’s pretty messed up. But I think it’s how many, if not most, of us are.
I mean, how often do we get wrapped up in our own perceived faults? For that matter, how often do we punish ourselves by actively reinforcing those perceptions, using them against ourselves in ways that would horrify us if applied to someone we love? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably “too often.”
So today I want to remind you of something:
Perceptions are often wrong.
This is especially true when it comes to how we perceive ourselves. I know that sometimes we feel like we deserve the abuse we heap on ourselves, but we don’t. In those moments, what we need is to take a step back and allow ourselves space to grow.
But how do we do that?
Well, I think the answer is literally written on my wall.
I give you the “Anger Iceberg.” It hangs on my living room wall with other helpful pictures and quotes in what my wife and I have dubbed the “mental health corner”, and was given to me a couple of years ago by the therapist I was seeing at the time.
Now, I know it’s a little goofy, but the point it expresses is, I think, important. The next time you notice yourself slipping into that negative headspace, try to take a step back and see what the root of that feeling is. It seems a little simplistic, but, let me tell you, it works.
For example, I frequently get trapped in the idea that I am somehow a failure because I’m not where I think I “should” be in my life– both financially and in regards to my career. Let’s apply the iceberg to that scenario.
For me, that feeling of failure stems from a much deeper worry that I will somehow fail to ensure that my wife (who is on her own mental health journey and is the bravest person I have ever met), has a safe, comfortable place to live. Understanding this, I can take a further step back and acknowledge that, in fact, we have a great place to live, that both of us have great jobs, and that there’s really no reason for me to be upset with myself. Simple, right? I have applied this technique in all kinds of situations and I don’t think it’s ever failed me. Often the answer turns out to be that I need to grow in some way, but every time I apply this technique I end up feeling better.
So I invite you to try it for yourself. The next time you notice that you’re beating yourself up, or find that you’re viewing yourself in a negative light, apply the iceberg. Go deeper. And if that doesn’t help, go deeper still. Eventually you’ll find the source. And with understanding, comes peace.
Thanks for reading, you’ve got this,