Automatic thoughts. We all have them. Don’t lie. When you saw this post, you thought hmmm automatic thoughts, that’s what this post must be about. But we all take our perceptions at face value. You know the saying, first impressions are everything. Well it’s true. Let’s think about when we meet someone for the first time, shall we? We look at their clothes, hair, face, etc. right off the start.
We all do it, don’t lie. We assume. It’s not the “ass out of you and me” type thing but we assume a lot. We take little bits of information and we try to fill in with our perceptions so the picture becomes more whole over time.
Think about this: You walk into a job interview with jeans and a t-shirt on. What do you think is going through the interviewer’s mind? They probably assume right off the bat that you have no idea what you are doing as a professional and that you will not fit the job. Little do they know that you may be fully capable but you had a crazy thing happen to you where all you had to wear was jeans. They may not even give you time to explain before they boot you out the door because they have expectations for what they should see.
We all have expectations for what we want, no matter how hard we try not to, we still judge a book by its cover every now and again. When we see someone’s name on a piece of paper we may envision how that person looks. If we casually encounter someone on the street we may think about what they are thinking or judge them for something they are doing or wearing. It’s not really something we can help, but something we can help is what we do with these perceptions.
Do we let them get in the way of interacting with others? Do we only see someone’s color and not what is beneath it? Do we see someone who has a tattoo and automatically think that they are a rough person or do we see someone who is overweight and think that they must get no exercise?
On the flipside, do we appreciate a person for who they are, where they come from and the rich amount of knowledge that they have about themselves? Do we allow time to get to know someone before jumping to conclusions about personality.
Perceptions are everything, let’s face it. How you are perceived plays a great role in how you survive in the world. To me this means that we need to think about how we perceive others and how we want to be perceived. If we are quick to judge, maybe others are just as quick to judge us.
Give people a chance, allow them to prove your perceptions wrong. Be open with how you accept people. This is something that I need to continually work on because I am just a human too. We all make mistakes in our perceptions, and sometimes it’s not a bad thing to be wrong. So keep your head up and keep an open mind, life may be easier because of it.