Self-Perception: Do You See What I See?

self-perceptionQuickly, what color is your shirt? Yes, really! Now, what do you expect someone else to say if you asked them, “What color is my shirt?” My guess is you expect them to see the same color you see. We all do. We can allow for some variation of the color, but essentially it’s the same. This same process is true for self-perception.

Self-perception is just that – the way I perceive myself. I can have a positive self-perception. I can have a negative self-perception. Perhaps I see myself realistically or maybe I view myself in an unrealistically positive or negative way. Either way, my self-perception is an important factor in how I relate to others.

Self-Perception Gone Wrong

There is no question you have some negative qualities. I hope I didn’t burst your ego with that. We all do. None of us are all good or all bad. However, many of us focus so much on the negative aspects of ourselves that we are blind to everything else. (The opposite of that – narcissism – can also be true, but we’ll talk about that later.) When our self-perception gets clouded by these negative traits, we can no longer see the positive parts of who we are.

Take a good look at yourself. Feel free to compare yourself to someone else. If you do that, I ask that you have one rule – hey, at least it’s only ONE rule! You have to know everything about that person. Their upbringing, past mistakes, past successes, traumatic experiences, bad breakups, negative thoughts, great jobs, terrible jobs, dietary habits, exercise regimen, and anything else… Unless you know those things, you can’t truly make an honest comparison.

People See You Differently than You Do

Just like the color of your shirt, you assume that everyone else sees what you see. As a result, if your self-perception is negative, you assume others perceive you negatively. This causes us to lack confidence, be timid in our interactions, sabotage our efforts for success, or simply not pursue good things for our lives. Negative self-perception causes us to believe that no one wants us, no one appreciates us, and certainly no one believes we deserve to have good things in our lives.

dayspring-counseling-self-perceptionThese are some of the consequences of negative self-perception. We live in this unrealistically negative world we have created in our own minds. We become preoccupied with our flaws and make assumptions that others only see our flaws. We do this even when others think we’re awesome. Get rid of the negative fantasy. The negative fantasy does little more than keep us stuck in a depressed state.

Think about the people that are most important to you. How would they describe you? If you don’t know, ask them. Yes, that might be a little weird. Tell them you’re trying to work some things out in your head and you just want them to be honest with you. Chances are, they are going to describe you differently than you would. They’re going to tell you the whole picture instead of the negative parts that have all of your attention.

Lighten up on yourself a little. Challenge the patterns of thinking that keep your negative self-perception alive. Go ahead and be realistic, but be realistic about all the awesome things about you as well.


Have there been times when you were really down on yourself? What things helped you overcome that? We would love to hear from you. Leave your comments below.