There are several reasons why the perception of our person can be inconsistent with that of others. We may not have awareness of ourselves, since it is common to acquire habits without even realizing it. Maybe we deceive ourselves to guard against unwanted feelings and thoughts. Or we don't do an accurate introspection, since a certain way of doing can depend on different motivations. Instead, it is possible to see ourselves as others see us. However, this attitude requires courage and a sound introspective analysis.
Method 1 of 3: Deepening Introspection Through Reflection
Step 1. Ask a friend to practice reflective listening
Reflective listening is a technique developed by Carl Rogers. It is about reporting the emotions and intentions of the interlocutor underlying his message. The purpose of rephrasing or paraphrasing what the listener believes his interlocutor is trying to communicate is to give the opportunity to clarify. Clarification is beneficial for both the listener and the interlocutor. Consequently, by paying attention to our reformulated message, we have the opportunity to listen to ourselves and decide if we are satisfied with the thought we are sharing with others.
- Your friend doesn't have to be a therapist who specializes in Rogers' current of thought. Just invite him to listen and rephrase your message, asking him to identify the underlying emotions, without judging or expressing an opinion on the subject.
- If it seems like it hasn't caught your emotions, you have a thousand opportunities to clarify yourself. Keep talking until you're satisfied with how he got your message. You will be surprised to find that you will be able to understand yourself more deeply at the end of the meeting.
Step 2. Engage in systematic reflection to analyze the consequences of your behavior
Describe your behavior in a particular situation in detail, then pay attention to the consequences or results. By making a list of behaviors and their effects, you will have the ability to organize your thoughts. Were they favorable? If not, identify what behaviors could have led to the desired results.
This exercise will help you become more aware of your behavioral patterns and will also offer you a framework for modifying unwanted behaviors
Step 3. Take a personality quiz to analyze yourself in a fun way
You will find a large amount of these tests on the Internet. Although they are rarely valid and reliable, they help focus attention on one's inner self. It will be fun to do them with a friend and you can also get an opinion on how others see you.
- By taking a quiz with a friend, you will be able to test how well your perception of yourself matches that of others. Ask a friend to answer the questions by putting themselves in your shoes as you take the quiz on your own. Then you can compare the answers and discuss where they don't match.
- Reflection requires introspective analysis, but to some it may seem difficult. Observing yourself silently and on your own is a task that can actually improve self-awareness and insight into how others perceive us. If you're not used to thinking about your behavior, it can feel unproductive or annoying. If you do it in a structured way, it will be easier for you.
Step 4. Ask for an honest opinion and take notes
People often moderate their criticisms or make their considerations more agreeable so as not to hurt the susceptibility of others, which is why it can be difficult to understand how others perceive you. So, you need to give people permission to tell the truth regardless of your feelings. You could try to explain that you are on a journey to explore your inner self and therefore want them to be brutally honest. Tell them that this attitude will help you become more aware of yourself. By taking notes, you will have the opportunity to compare the answers given by different friends over time. By doing this, you will be able to better understand your behavior and keep track of your changes.
- If the person you asked for an opinion is reluctant, guide them in their responses. Ask her to identify your strengths first and then your weaknesses. You can make her contribution constructive by asking her for some advice on how to overcome your weaknesses.
- The best way to do this exercise is to involve someone who knows you well, who you trust, and who won't take this opportunity to mortify you.
- Be prepared to hear unpleasant things before asking a question. If you are on the defensive, this exercise will be of no use. However, if you feel like you are taking a defensive attitude, remember that this is an opportunity to grow.
Method 2 of 3: Understanding Mirroring
Step 1. Appreciate the value of mirroring (also called mirroring or extraverbal tracing)
We are all biologically programmed to emulate each other. Mirror neurons are activated when we are involved by others. Sometimes, all this leads us to imitate the expressions of the body of those in front of us and allows us to perceive the mood of others. This is the biological foundation of empathy. We grasp the emotions of others and feel them as our own. The harmony we feel when we share personal stories depends on this. Empathy helps us develop understanding and build relationships.
The internal experience of mirroring usually occurs automatically and outside of our conscious control. It means that it happens independently of our will and can affect our outward behavior, without us being aware of it
Step 2. Recognize how mirroring affects your behavior
As you become aware of yourself, you realize that mirroring affects posture, physical attitude, speech, emotions, and even breathing. While this is generally not a bad thing, in some cases you may find that you are assimilating the negative emotions of others and what you are feeling becomes more and more intense as the people around you begin to fidget. If you realize that your thoughts or feelings about a certain person or subject are more hostile after interacting with someone, reflect and try to understand if something has happened that has actually changed the circumstances or if you have fueled the negativity of the other person.
Although often the inner mechanisms of mirroring are automatic, you have the ability to control the outer manifestations of mirroring and, therefore, choose to react contrary to its dynamics
Step 3. Ask a friend to observe you interacting with someone and to take notes on any exaggerated expressions or inhibitions you exhibit due to mirroring
These notes will be important because they will help you and your friend become more aware of the behavior you are trying to change. Then, establish a gesture, such as pulling an ear, so that the friend can warn you and let you know when you are mimicking an attitude in an inappropriate way. As you see, you can consciously change your behavior.
- Notice when mirroring reinforces particular reactions or fuzzy perceptions. Since mirroring is beyond our awareness, the variations in physical expressions due to mirroring unconsciously affect the impression others have of us. Those who cannot externally reproduce the interlocutor's behaviors can be considered cold and insensitive, while those who follow them in an accentuated way can be seen as a reactive, aggressive, unstable or annoying person.
- If you discover a distorted impression on yourself, due to atypical mirroring patterns, you just have to accept the representation that others have of you or make a conscious commitment to change your mirroring patterns. Perhaps you will have to do what you can to increase or decrease the emulation of other people's expressions. You can practice accentuating or softening these attitudes with close friends.
Step 4. Reduce the intensity of the reaction patterns
Mirroring can be recurrent in face-to-face interactions. As soon as one gets upset, the other gets upset too. Therefore, the meeting gradually heats up, the volume of the voice increases, the speech is more and more pressing, the language more aggressive, while the gestures and facial expressions are increasingly exaggerated. In case you are inclined to get involved in pressing interactions, try to consider whether such a crescendo represents what you really feel when you are in a certain context. Ask yourself: Can others see how passionate you are about a certain topic or is yours an uncontrolled attack due to the mechanisms of mirroring? Once you understand that the way you interact no longer matches the way you actually see a certain discussion, you can change the tone of the conversation. The beauty of recognizing when mirroring can be due to a misrepresentation of one's thoughts and feelings is that one can use the recurring nature of mirroring to change the interaction. It is a way to manage the perception of others and make sure they see us correctly.
- If the discussion has escalated more than you would have thought, you have the option of introducing positive physical expressions. If you smile sweetly from time to time, you will prompt your interlocutor to behave in a similar way.
- Gradually lower your voice and moderate your speech to decrease aggression.
- Laughing will produce an injection of humor in others, relieving the tension.
Method 3 of 3: Recognize the Projections
Step 1. Engage in listening as reflective as the listener, to be sure that your perception of the interlocutor is correct
Try telling those in front of you that you want to apply yourself in reflective listening to make sure you understand. This attitude will give you many opportunities to receive clarification and to verify your perception of the other.
Your reactions to others can be distorted due to personal bias or projections. Sigmund Freud first spoke of projection as a defense mechanism, which was later extended by Anna Freud. In order not to face unacceptable or undesirable thoughts and feelings, we attribute them to another person. This affects our impression of others' behaviors and shapes the way we react. In turn, our reaction affects the perception that others have of us. To make sure we understand others correctly and react appropriately, we should try to check our perceptions
Step 2. Be honest with yourself
We often deceive ourselves to protect our sense of self. Everyone has their own characteristics and behaves they are not proud of. Carl Jung defined unpleasant character traits, as well as unacceptable thoughts and emotions, with the term shadow. Casting our shadow on others relieves us of the guilt and shame we feel when we recognize it. Others are not so stubbornly blind that they do not notice what our personality is like, so denying it does nothing but inhibit the ability to see ourselves as others see us. If someone makes a comment about your jealousy, intolerance, or any other trait that most people would like to deny, accept the possibility that you really are that way.
If a personality trait distresses you so much that you prefer to lie or hide it, you should work to change it. You must first recognize it in order to change it
Step 3. Ask others to help you become more aware of you
As with any habit, projections happen unconsciously. Once you spot one, ask others to help you get to know you better: they will have to warn you when you project thoughts and feelings onto those around you.
In addition to projecting our thoughts and feelings onto others, we sometimes make other people's projections our own. It is possible that some person in your life projects negative feelings and emotions onto you and, therefore, you react with equally negative feelings and emotions. That person, in turn, uses your reactions to validate their representation of you. Ask a stranger to observe how you interact with that person and tell you their opinion on the mechanisms that govern that interaction
- Involve trusted friends in your analysis. They can help you identify ways of doing things and habits that may escape you.
- Keep a journal to analyze your behavior over time.
- Accept opinions and criticisms, without getting defensive.
- Look for a therapist to help you deepen your analysis by employing various investigation methods.
- We don't always accept what we discover when we analyze ourselves honestly and objectively. Try not to dwell too much on the characteristics you don't want to have and instead focus on the opportunities you have to grow.
- Past traumatic events can make self-analysis difficult or painful. A mental health professional can help you overcome them.