I was speaking with a friend recently, and was reminded of working with people who come through differently than they intend. Several people have reminded me that how we come across is a factor of the other person’s perceptions and projections. However, there are times when we come across a certain way because of our behaviors, beliefs, or family patterns.

Think about the following scenarios and consider whether they are feedback or perception:

  • You undertake an effort because you want to make an approach available to others in your local area. A side benefit is the approach also becomes more accessible for you. The motivation as perceived by someone else is that it’s all for your benefit. Perception or feedback?
  • More than one person tells you that you come across as having walls up, being aloof, and having an intense communication style. It is impacting both your work and personal relationships. Feedback or perception?
  • You reply to a question with what you consider to be an objective observation. The people receiving it are triggered and describe your observation as nasty or inaccurate and they aren’t interested in your perspective. Perception, feedback, or a little of both?

If you know your motivations and intentions, I would suggest you look at the other person’s feedback (external reference points) to see if there is a kernel of truth. However, other people cannot know what is true for you. In those instances, being internally referenced allows you to own your truth.

On the other hand, there are times we cannot see ourselves clearly or objectively. If numerous people or experiences provide similar feedback (act as a mirror), it would be worthwhile to spend time uncovering hidden patterns that are creating that perception.

It is always fascinating for me to see the changes that happen when someone is willing to look at the mirror created by others, and seek to understand hidden patterns. Those patterns may have been created from:

  • feedback of those in authority
  • impact of challenging experiences
  • receiving of mixed messages or of being compared to others
  • unconscious family loyalties
  • or disempowering beliefs

Once uncovered, I have seen transformational work lead people to more fulfilling careers, ease in life transitions, healthier relationships, and motivation towards self-care, among other outcomes.

For some people, external reference points can become their internal compass. However, while external reference points are important for feedback and learning, they need to be filtered through your own sense of self to determine whether they truly serve you.

Finding yourself the recipient of mirrored feedback that doesn’t quite resonate or stuck in defining yourself based on what others says? If you are willing to uncover hidden patterns, please contact me for a complimentary coaching conversation.

© 2021 Systems of Change, LLC