We do not see things as they are.
We see them as we are.
I have been aware this week of how much pressure some people put on themselves to be perfect. How dependent we can be at times on the approval of others. We might engage in external behaviours (such as people pleasing and loss of self, or silent hiding or angry defensiveness). This also leads to internal behaviour of self criticism.
There is a process I call, ‘The, Am I brilliant or am I crap? Question’. This takes place within a stuck and distorted system. Maybe everyone else seems better than us, cleverer, prettier, more interesting. Or maybe we are annoyed because no one else works as hard as us, behaves as well, or sees the issue as clearly as we do. Often we feel both self-critical and other-critical. It affects our mood, we may feel low or angry.
Unfortunately this type of hard work, as we measure and re-measure, working out whether we are a loser or whether they are, doesn’t strengthen our ability for accurate self assessment, nor discovery of truth or peace, as it is dependent on others and our own distorted perceptions. We see things as we are, not as they are. Thus, when others give us feedback we are likely to use this to feed the internal system of measuring, (e.g. “They think I’m a loser.” or conversely we might put them down, “They don’t know what they are talking about!”). Transactional Analysis would call these the “I’m not OK. You’re OK” and “I’m OK. You’re not OK” transactions.
In the meantime truthful internal measure is not being developed. Most people with this process are quite unable to work out whether they are brilliant or crap and their answer may swing from one to the other (when they are most likely neither). In this type of system we are lost without an external person to tell us whether we are OK! We can end up both longing for, and fearfully avoiding, feedback, I see this process in stage fright, for example.
What purpose does this internal rumination and external comparison have? This internal process whereby we can inflate or deflate ourselves, or others, is really keeping us from the underlying worry – maybe we are inadequate and sadly lacking, maybe others will see this. If we are inadequate, do we fear that others will leave us, or attack us, stop approving of us or loving us, that they will isolate or humiliate us?
It is important to find and face the fear that we are attempting to protect ourselves from. We can then see how hard we work, and ruminate, to keep this worry at bay, to hide our imagined inadequacy. This is the real issue, we can drop the measuring and the ruminating and focus on this instead.
To develop useful internal measure we need to reduce our desire for external reassurance and reduce our measuring of self against others, while we increase our understanding and self acceptance of the underlying issue, who we are, and work that through.