“Wisdom comes from knowing that what others say about you is not your reality. It’s their reality.” Kristin Michelle Elizabeth

We’ve all heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” yet, that is only partially true.   The part about sticks and stones breaking our bones (and possibly killing us) is certainly true.  However, the words can never hurt me part, is far from the truth.  We ALL know that unpleasant words said- to and about us- can and do break our hearts.  Still, some people feel as if it’s their appointed duty, to make judgments about us – you are lazy, difficult, overbearing, not a nice person, etc. –usually based on their misperceptions of us.  But just because it’s their PERCEPTION, doesn’t make it our truth.   O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS of us is only real in their minds and usually NOT rooted in facts.   Do you let O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS affect you?  Have you been impacted by someone’s hurtful words?  OHH Chile, I HAVE!!!  So, for this week’s blog, let’s talk SHIP about the importance of ignoring O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS!!!

What is PERCEPTION? It has been said that PERCEPTION is reality and that is soooooo far from the truth.  Especially since PERCEPTIONS are based on first impressions, physical appearance, facial expressions, gestures, word choice, voice quality, and a whole bunch of other superficial external factors.  So, PERCEPTION, especially O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION, can BEST be described as “THEIR truth” that is solely based on their individual experiences.  Whereas reality is a reflection of what is real.  It is fact-based and is not based on external factors. It is based on what actually is and doesn’t change. Unlike PERCEPTION, reality is THE truth.”  So, when O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS don’t align with our PERCEPTION of self or when hurtful words are spoken to and about us, we need to remember it is based on their experience, NOT our reality.  I’ll give you an example.  When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher loved to share stories about her live-in boyfriend with the class and they’d listen to avoid doing work in class. One day, I interrupted her story and asked if we could discuss verbs, adjectives, and nouns and that ticked her off. She responded, “That’s why you’ll never be shit” and the class erupted in laughter.  Although her words were meant to hurt me, they didn’t because I had a strong sense of self-awareness and knew that O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS of me including hers, didn’t matter.  I knew exactly who I was and nothing she did or said would have an impact on my life.  Instead, I knew I’d make her regret her words and I did just that. 

After, I received my bachelor’s degree, I visited her classroom, and she asked me to speak with her students, so I did. I told them that they could achieve anything they set their minds to and shared that she told me that I would never be shit but I didn’t listen and had recently received my B.A. degree.  She denied saying it, but in front of her class, I explained that even though she tried to break me down with her hurtful words, they actually served as motivation. I reiterated to her that words once spoken couldn’t be unheard and, in her occupation, she would encounter youth who lacked self-awareness and that she could alter their path with her negative words. Two years later when I received my master’s degree, I visited her again and shared the same story with a new batch of her students to encourage them NOT to internalize or allow O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS to limit their dreams.

The truth is that-O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION and words CAN kill a relationSHIP, destroy someone’s motivation, and murder one’s inspiration, if we let it.   My teacher’s words and response were based on her PERCEPTION of me being a smart Alek kid that embarrassed her in front of the class, but it was NOT grounded in my reality (and with my good grades hers either). People will always make judgments about us to deflect from their own flaws. That’s why it’s important for us to understand that NOT everyone’s PERCEPTION of us matters.   So, whose PERCEPTIONS matter?   We should value the opinions of people that know us.  Those who can and will influence our ability to achieve our goals and those who matter in our lives.  Because when we try to manage O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION of us, we’ll find ourselves catering to their needs and will inevitably change who we are, and who we were created to be. So, don’t let hurtful words or O.P.P.-OTHER PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS of us define who we are because we should already know that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”!


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