Misperception

 

Being misperceived seems to be a theme for me now.

I remember some instances from childhood where this happened. My older brother said I had done something he had done, I got the blame, and was not believed. School mates told the principal I had done something I had no connection with, was called in, and again not believed. There are also other instances.

And now, this seems to happen more frequently again.

What’s really going on?

I see how my words can be misperceived.

If I notice that the person I am talking with seems to have a rigid and one-sided view on a topic, I’ll often take on and defend the other end of the polarity, even if I don’t agree with it in a conventional sense. Something in me feels it’s important for any view to be acknowledged, appreciated and included. And I often don’t explain what I am doing. I see how that can be misperceived, especially by those who (a) don’t know me very well, and (b) tends to see things in a less fluid way (or ar not used to differentiate between conventional truths and what’s there when we look more closely).

Also, I tend to notice and give voice to parts of me, even if – or perhaps especially if – they are small and in apparent opposition to my conscious view and orientation. Again, those who don’t know me very well, and are not used to this, may think that what I voice is my conscious view and/or my whole view.

In a therapy or counseling session, I tend to search for and voice beliefs in me, and especially those far from my conscious view. And here too, there has been misunderstandings. I also tend to search for the grain of truth in whatever the therapist may say, even if it’s far from true in a conventional sense. I go with – and agree with – the grain of truth, and don’t make it clear that it may not fit in an ordinary and conventional sense.

These patterns in me work well with people who know me well, and with folks familiar with inquiry and subpersonality work. And it may not work so well otherwise. I keep getting that lesson. I also notice that one reason I keep doing this may be a combination of disappointment (they are not familiar with this form of fluidity and playful exploration), hopelessness (they won’t understand anyway), and trying to find protection in a sense of superiority (I am better than them since I am more used to playful fluidity).

I see that this is an opportunity to give voice to my experience.

When I notice someone seems to misperceive me, I often don’t say anything. It’s so clearly about them and not me, so why say anything about it? And yet, that’s an attitude that has created problems in my life, sometimes quite big problems. When I look more closely, I see that it comes – at least partly – from feeling hurt. She misperceives me, I feel hurt by it, so I’ll punish her by letting her have her ideas and not say anything. It’s more kind to me and the other person to correct it as soon as possible.

I see it’s an opportunity to find the validity in what they say.

In the situations I have in mind writing this, the misperception is clearly a misperception in a conventional sense. And it’s kind to me and others to correct it right away.

At the same time, there is a grain of truth in it. I can always find where it’s true, even if it’s just in a thought or impulse in me at one point, or something I said or did once years back. And if I can find one example, I can find one more. It’s helpful for me to find this. And I don’t need to give voice to it if it may lead to a misunderstanding.