Who Can You Take At Face Value? Appearances Are Deceptive!

I'm sure we've all made mistakes when it comes to 'sussing out' other people and their motives...and perhaps these mistakes have cost us dearly. We are inherently wired up to make a quick decision about a friend or foe at first sight – because our very survival in primitive times could have depended upon this snap decision – to fight or run away!

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I'm sure we've all made mistakes when it comes to 'sussing out' other people and their motives...and perhaps these mistakes have cost us dearly.

We are inherently wired up to make a quick decision about a friend or foe at first sight – because our very survival in primitive times could have depended upon this snap decision – to fight or run away!

How accurate can this decision ever be?

Not very nowadays – unless the other person is being obviously aggressive and threatening towards us.

We can have difficulty knowing if what we imagine about them is really something that relates more to us than to them. We may be fooled by a reflection of ourselves when it comes to making a judgement about someone else – about how they look and act, and their imagined motives.

We might also project onto a new acquaintance the things we either dislike and disown in ourselves, or the 'better' qualities we wish we possessed for ourselves.

In this way we then treat the other person as bad and repulsive, or as good and ideal.

If our projection idealises them, as with celebrities, then we want to emulate and be associated with them in any way possible (fan club, social media contact, cosmetic surgery to look like them etc,)

We can also obscure the true nature of another with our own projection and transference. Without awareness we might overlay someone with qualities, attributes and intentions that belong elsewhere with someone else – usually from our past encounters.

It can take the quickest of time for us to set up this projection, or overlay. When we spot a facial feature or expression, when we hear their name or accent, when we see their mannerisms and body posture then our brain whips out something similar from our memory bank and gives us the 'short-cut' to knowing this new person. Or so we believe.

The problem lies in this short-cut. It doesn't take us back to the old place, time, or experiences. Instead it leads up the garden path to stereotyping and pigeon-holing someone in the present day who may be utterly different from that associated person from the past.

There's even more going on sub-consciously too. We may be attributing character and personality traits onto someone based upon some aspect of them such as their beauty and wealth. We all tend to think that the rich and beautiful people also have a specific way of relating to, and being related to, by others.

We bestow upon them qualities that are not necessarily there and we then judge them 'as-if' these qualities were real.

We all have deeper layers to our psyche which obscure our true deeper nature. Some layers we keep well hidden, and only share them when our trust is high and our vulnerability is low. It becomes hard for people to 'know' us – and sometimes for us to know ourselves and what 'messages' we might be putting out about ourselves – which other people then respond to from their own 'layers'.

To add more to the mix there's also the matter of masks, roles, and sub-personalities.

We all create 'false selves' and masks in childhood as a way of getting by in difficult circumstances.

Masks take many forms – such as the compliant people-pleaser, the victim, the martyr, the sick patient.

Masks help people to hide as they try to avoid scrutiny, negative judgement and ultimately rejection. They represent the belief that 'I'll be whatever I have to be to survive around here, to be accepted by you, and to fit in with you'.

We also have sub-personalities which are like splinters from our core psyche - and which were created to help us to cope with earlier emotional and physical trauma. This is not to the extreme of a psychotic personality disorder or multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

It's about our having different aspects and energy (and sometimes voice and mannerisms) that we use in a given situation (e.g. the bolshy teenager when faced with rules and authority; or the seductress when alcohol releases our inhibitions).

We also take on roles to give our life structure and meaning – but we can over-identify with the mask and roles and lose touch with who we are underneath, and who we show to other people. This affects how they perceive and relate to us. Some of it is our stuff, some of it is their stuff.

As you can see – the more you look the more complex it can become. We don't have time for deep analysis when making snap judgements to protect our safety and so it's understandable that we jump to conclusions.

The important thing is to be aware that we may be doing this and to leave some room for more information to come in and firm up a more accurate assessment of someone else.

Unless your life is in immediate danger – give yourself time to get to know who is under the surface layer.

What about you?

Don't forget... people are doing this to you too and making snap decisions and relating to you 'as-if' you were someone else or meant something other than what you'd said or written.

If you have a feeling that this may be happening then courageously ask them:-

Do I remind you of someone else – because I have the feeling and impression that you aren't relating to the 'real' me right now and you may somehow be inadvertently distorting what I'm trying to convey to you.

In other words...is there someone else that I am reminding you of right now?

Their answer might surprise you both!

We can never really 'know' anyone – we are in a state of flux. Our opinions change and our beliefs and values are being updated in light of new information and experiences.

We can't always trust our snap decisions because appearances really are deceptive, and there's always more than meets the eye!

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR

www.maxineharley.com – where you'll find a full page of FREE RESOURCES to help you to understand the effects of your childhood emotions, and how they still impact your life; and how to S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life – with Self-awareness – Education – Learning new skills – Emotional intelligence and balance – Control, clarity and choice – TRANSFORMATION!

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Maxine Harley

MIND HEALER & MENTOR - Psychotherapist (MSc), Author, Columnist & Blogger. Please see www.maxineharley.com and www.maxineharleymentoring.com, S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life Company Ltd.

I help women to FEEL better - so they can BE, DO and HAVE better! As a MIND HEALER I specialise in helping women to recover from a troubled childhood and toxic parents, to heal and transcend their emotional wounds, re-parent their inner child, and make peace with their past. This enables and empowers them to become better parents, partners, professionals - and all round happier calmer people :-) As a MENTOR I offer different levels of therapeutic self development - including MINDING YOUR BUSINESS, MINDING THE GAP, and MIND MASTERY...please discover more at www.maxineharleymentoring.com