‘It’s not what you look at that matters, but what you see’ – Henry David Thoreau
I love that quote. It’s so simple but so true. We can all look at the same thing and yet see something entirely different.
It might be a flower you are looking at. One person sees it as part of a garden or park or bouquet, whilst another will see only the flower itself in beautiful isolation. One will notice the different hues whilst another will see it as a flat colour. One person might notice how the flower is made up, the petals, the stamen, the leaves, the stem whilst another sees it as a single item. One person will notice how the butterflies and bees are attracted to it whilst another will see them as a nuisance, getting in the way of the flower. Maybe some of us will see a whole different picture, seeing themselves as a young child making daisy chains or as a bride with flowers in their bouquet. Maybe you see someone giving you a flower or you remember how it felt looking at flowers with a loved one no longer here. Maybe it’s the scent of the flower that you ‘see’, that brings the feelings and memories flooding back.
So many of the problems in this world are caused by what we see when we look at something or someone. If we can take things at face value, will that help us to see more clearly? Perception is defined as ‘an intellectual process of transforming sensory stimuli to meaningful information, interpreting it in our mind and using it to judge’. So surely that means we can choose how we interpret the information and choose not to judge? If we see a person as simply a person, rather than seeing gender, disability, race, religion, age or sexuality, will that make the world a more tolerant place? Can we change our perception?
What about when you look at yourself in the mirror? What do you see? Do you notice your faults or are you proud of the good things? Do you see someone strong or do you see a person full of doubt and fear? Do you notice the colour of your clothes, your hair, the sparkle of your jewellery or do you see a drab, plain figure in front of you? What you see is likely to depend on how you feel at that particular moment. If you’re feeling good, you’ll notice more of the positive things and vice versa. Notice how you see something different each time you look. Or maybe you avoid mirrors completely, it’s not uncommon for people with very low self-esteem to refuse to look at themselves at all.
What would someone else see? Would they see you in the same way as you see yourself? Unless you are very confident and sure of yourself (and if you were, you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog!), I think you’d be surprised. Your friends and family see the you they know and love. They might notice your best physical attributes like your amazing smile or your gorgeous eyes but more than that. they see your personality, your kindness, thoughtfulness and caring ways. They see your strength, your vulnerability and your honesty. In other words, they see the best bits of you. They notice the things which make you beautiful inside and out.
Your tiny tweak this week is to try and see yourself as others see you when you look in the mirror. Maybe you could use an affirmation too. Saying something like ‘I am a good person’ or ‘I am beautiful’ can really help you begin to believe in yourself. The affirmation can be anything as long as it is positive and it makes you feel better about yourself. If you catch yourself noticing the things you don’t like (we all do it), make sure you balance it out by noticing two things you do. Got a huge spot appeared on your chin? OK but look at how long my eyelashes are and how my eyes sparkle when I smile. Get the idea?! We can do this! Let’s find the positivity to big ourselves up and change our perception of ourselves. Let me know how you get on!
Until next time xx
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