The Power of Perception

Last Sunday, while spending the day getting things done and taking time out for myself, I had the chance to talk to two family members on the phone.  While speaking to them (separately), I noticed an interesting difference in each of the exchanges.

Exchange #1

  • Family member 1:  So, how have you been?
  • Me:  Oh, you know.  Pretty good.  My back has been hurting a little today, but I think it’s cuz—
  • FM1:  Cuz you’re old?  [laughs]
  • Me [laughs]:  Yeah, with my grey hair and my bad knees and my bad back…
  • FM1 [suddenly exasperated]:  B, I was joking!  And you got all your grey hair from worrying too much.
  • Me [starting to feel a little annoyed]:  Well, I got the grey hair from Dad.  He went prematurely, too.
  • FM1:  No, you’re a worrywart.  You worry all the time.
  • Me:  ….
  • FM2:  …Anyway! How’s everything been?

Exchange #2

  • Family member 2:  Hey, B!  How’ve you been, sweetheart?
  • Me:  Oh, I’ve been good!  Just been running errands today, taking care of things.
  • FM2:  That is great.  Your father told me how beautiful your new house is.  Are you still kicking butt at that martial arts school of yours?
  • Me [a little embarrassed]:  Well, I’m actually taking a break from taekwondo, but I’m really looking into what my next big adventure will be.
  • FM3:  Well, just look at you!  Sweetheart, I’m so proud of you!  You’re just doing everything, and it’s all just coming up aces!
  • Me:  🙂 Aw, thank you!

Since these exchanges happened so quickly, right next to each other, it really gave me the chance to compare how two people who love you can so easily affect how you feel about yourself.  It also displays how some words, though meant without any ill intent, can hurt.  I mean, they certainly don’t help.

As for me, it’s something I’m going to keep in mind the next time I have a conversation with someone I care about.  If I’m really trying to be helpful with their self-esteem…I’ve now got something of a template.  🙂

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