Over the past 18 months, I've experienced having several people perceive me in ways that have hurt me deeply. They have reacted to me; my actions or words, in ways I never intended and I have been accused of motives I never had. I have tried to re-present myself, I have walked on eggshells, I have raged against the accusations. I have tried everything I could think of to 'change their mind' about me. To little or not avail.
I have wondered why this keeps happening to me, and yes, I have seriously considered that I might just be a terrible, horrible, stupid, lazy, toxic person. I had never considered these things to be part of who I was. I acknowledge I am someone who struggles with diplomacy. I can be honest without filters for cushioning fragile self-esteem. I can be blunt and I have precious little patience for people lacking integrity, self-awareness, humility, or compassion - yes, I need to practice more compassion, myself!
Taking all this into account, I avoid engaging in manipulation and game-playing with determination. I will never say something about a person I would not be prepared to say to their face. I would never purposefully hurt another person.
So, I have tried to disprove people's perception of me as a person I don't identify with. I've tried to prove I am conscientious, compassionate, ethical, moral, kind, and respectful. What I have discovered is that people will see and hear what they are looking and listening for. The more I try to prove I'm not the things I am accused of being, the more these people are convinced I am what they perceive me to be.
I believe this is the lesson I have been needing to learn in the past year and a half. I cannot control how people choose to perceive me. That is not to say I am perfect. I know I am far from perfect. This is exactly why I strive to be a better person every day. What I have realised is that in my egoistic struggle to prove I'm kind, worthwhile, or conscientious I have become angry and resentful that these people refuse to acknowledge these things about me.
Feeling angry and resentful blocks my ability to have compassion and be open to new relationships with new people, or trusting relationships with the people who remain in my life. I'm always half expecting people to 'turn on me'. That is no way to live. It causes me to be less of the person I strive to be.
So, employing the mindfulness approach, I've decided that I don't need to hang onto the desire to control how others perceive me. I need only to have personal integrity. Continue to strive to be compassionate, conscientious, and to have humility. I need to see and hear the generosity of spirit, kindness, and humility that is all around me every day.
Let go of other people's perceptions of me because people will see and hear what they are looking and listening for and that is their life work, not mine.