Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Inaccurate Self-Image

We all have certain ideas about ourselves. Some are inaccurate. The obvious one is that Pri and I run around the world feeling overweight, when we aren't. But, there are plenty that are much more challenging to refute, to someone's face, like:

  • I'm a patient person
  • I always under-promise and over-deliver
  • I'm prompt
  • I never put myself first
  • I'm a giver
These sorts of character trait-beliefs are tied to who the person believes him or herself to be. You can show someone a "US Average Height" chart and just prove that a 5'8" man is average, and thus he isn't short. You can't show someone a similar chart saying that "15 minutes late consistently does not mean prompt."  Or that having a hissyfit means you DO put yourself first. 

And, I don't mind that folks have an aggrandized sense of self, within reason. I'm sure it's healthy. I'm sure, somewhere out there, some psychologist would argue that's the right way to be - within reason.  However, the challenge is when it butts up against reality, and the rest of the world has to deal with that person's cognitive dissonance. 

So, if you want to tell someone "This is a big meeting. Don't be late." and they reply with "I am a prompt person. You don't have to worry about me." Somewhere in your mind, you're thinking "like hell. You're gonna be late. And you're going to mess it up for all of us." But, you can't reply "No you aren't, you ninny, so just freakin' leave early this time, would you?" Because, it's like counteracting a hard fact - She's prompt. How could she not be? 

I find myself dealing with these issues a lot lately. I'm sure I have the same characteristics, by the way. I'm sure I think I'm a patient person. Or a giver. Or a people person - well, not that. Or super-organized. Or sweet to people. When, perhaps I'm totally completely not. I just don't know which one I'm not .. because no one told me. Why? For the same reason I haven't told anyone else. 

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