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We are social creatures to our core, and this influences even how we perceive ourselves. Our self-identity doesn’t happen in isolation. It’s layered in complexity and includes how we perceive others to view us. 

For instance, growing up we might have felt loved and affirmed for being smart or athletic. And we took this on as part of our identity. However, this might have revealed more about how we interpreted the other’s perceptions than their true vision of us. We took their passing affirmation as the ultimate verdict for our identity. And while they might have supported our endeavors, it was not their intent to give this to us as an identity. 

To be sure, this dynamic can continue to play out in positive and negative ways throughout our life and relationships. 

For example, we might feel like a failure for never feeling like we can measure up to our wife’s expectations. But it’s very possible that this speaks more to our own insecurities than anything she’s trying to communicate to us. Of course, there will be times in which we disappoint her. But we don’t have to take these passing experiences as her ultimate verdict on us, nor accept this as a definitive identity for ourselves either. 

To be fair, we have our blind spots and there is much we can learn from the feedback of others. But we still must be discerning in sorting through these different perceptions. When we’re not careful we end up forming an identity neither on our own self-perceptions nor the true perceptions of the other, but rather on how we think the other views us. And this can lead to much misunderstanding and blame that could’ve been avoided otherwise. 

In the end, don’t assume you know other’s true perceptions of you, as we often interpret their views through the lens of our own biases. Let others influence you while still knowing and holding on to your true self. 

Photo by Joe Shields on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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