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InnerCourse: Perceptions Can Be Deceiving:
By Michael Crow   Printer Friendly Version

A chance remark by a friend, boss, family member, or co-worker takes you by surprise; "You're always so ____________!" (fill-in the blank.) You wonder how they ever got that impression. It isn't how you see yourself at all, and yet this is how the individual perceives you. How many people in your life really know who you are, and what you stand for? Have you checked your self-concept lately?

Intentional Identity™ is one of the fascinating concepts discussed in Michael Crow's forthcoming book, "The "I" Handbook: An Inner Course to Individuality through Intentional Identity." It leads readers on a journey of self-discovery and challenges us to re-examine our individual identity and integrity. Through a series of focusing exercises, we discover that, our own carefully thought-out and individually crafted self-concept may have less influence on our thoughts and actions than our interpretation of external events. We begin to understand that behaviors, positive or negative, affect not only the way others perceive us, but more importantly the way we perceive ourselves.

[Emotional Path] Imagine it is Monday morning and you are late again. You don't wait for the "cross" sign, but dodge between traffic. As you reach the other side, a police officer gives you a ticket for jay walking. In frustration you demand, "don't you have more important crimes to solve?"

Your perception of the officer is negative. Because she wrote you a ticket? No, she's just doing her job. The truth is: your late again (negative behavior pattern); you're upset being delayed by her (Emotional/stressed); so you respond with a negative perception about the officer (irrational), and no doubt she has a negative perception of you. You have transferred your frustrations to someone else - perceiving the individual in a negative way, when in reality, the responsibility, and negative behavior is yours.

Combine these negative perceptions with those of your co-workers once you reach the office (they aren't having a good day either), and it is easy to see how a negative outlook leads to poor communication, decreased productivity, low morale and strained relationships - in business and at home.

The challenges is that there will always be someone with influence in our lives-bosses, co-workers, partners, or spouse-that has a different perception or agenda. Often, we are forced to re-examine our perceptions, make tough decisions, or compromise. However, if we continually compromise what we believe in, resentment builds and we will question our integrity and self-concept. Since the self-concept defines our beliefs about who we are, and influences what we believe, continually compromising can lower our self-confidence, self-concept, and hinder personal growth.

Understanding how our perceptions and beliefs shape our identity, is an important step toward discovering who we are, what we stand for, and what we won't stand for.

The bottom line is, that until you are comfortable with yourself (identity), and your integrity (behavior); until you live congruently with your individual values and beliefs, you will not reach your full potential or enjoy healthy personal and business relationships.

How do we begin to apply this in the real world? Start by answering the following questions each morning. This will put your focus on your potential and the positive opportunity's that surround you.
  • What am I most grateful for today? -Opportunity, health, ability?
  • Where my happiest about right now? -Potential, accomplishments, achievement?
  • Who or what am I proudest of in life? -Contribution, attitude, Family?
  • Who do I love? Who loves me? - Children, partner, friends?

Be honest in your evaluation; keep it positive, and keep in mind:

  • You are not your job.
  • You are not anything you own or possess.
  • Who you are today is not who you were yesterday - or who you will be tomorrow.

You are: your thoughts and actions, keep them positive
You are: a responsible, learning, growing, transitioning, changing, complex, interdependent, human being; part of something much greater than yourself, with unlimited potential to be an active, creative, and productive influence in the world.

In the course of our lives, we will transition through various beliefs, perceptions, principles, and value-centered focuses - a personal evolution of common sense and nature working in harmony. Life is a positive and exciting journey of joy, growth, self-awareness, and self-actualization - if we just take the time to really know and understand ourselves first.

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