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Impressionism & Abstract Expressionism October 9, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

Frog-CircusWe have as many reputations as acquaintances.

Friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers view us through the distorted clouded lens of their own judgments, experiences, attitudes, and opinions.

They form impressions about who we are based on abstracts from our lives, mingled with their own beliefs, views, and values.

abstract-green-n-blueAs a result, our reputations with others are closer to impressionistic paintings, or abstract expressionism, than the school of realism.

People who have known us for a long time tend to include our past bag and baggage with our present and ever-changing personas when forming opinions about who we are.

As a result, the person they see often has little to nothing in common with the person we’ve become.

People hang on to their pasts and our pasts and use that filter to look at the present moment . . . instead of emptying their minds of preconceived notions to see this moment as it is, right here, right now.

And then they wonder why our actions don’t mirror the image they hold of us.

Once we accept that our reputations vary from person to person, and even day-to-day (depending upon the topic under discussion), we stop getting so caught up in the opinions of others which tend to be based more on who they are than on who we are.

Instead, we strive to do our best while focusing on our reputation with the “man in the mirror.”

Quotes to Ponder:

* The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. ~ Dan Zadra 

* When we stop hiding who we are, we have more energy to become more fully who we want to be.

* Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Don - October 9, 2012

I think extricating ourselves from the opinions of others that define us, is not easy, but the gift is the beginning of a wonderful sense of freedom. I’ve often felt, though, that it’s also a case of discerning very carefully the opinions others have of us, a kind of sifting the chaff from the wheat. Sometimes they see what we don’t see, or refuse to see. Sometimes they can set us free from distorted perceptions we have of ourselves. Just a thought. A very insightful post – thanks Nancy.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

Good thoughts, Don. For me, the distinction depends on whether they are sharing a fact-based observation or a subjective opinion and judgment.

This post is addressed to the latter.

If someone says: “you say you want to save money and reduce clutter, but you bought 3 pairs of shoes this week” ~ listening to that fact-based observation may tell us something about where our true priorities lie. Of course, if we are tuned in to our inner barometer, it is likely that we have already noted the inherent inconsistency between what we said and what we did . . . and we have decided to become more mindful in the future.

In contrast, if someone says “you shop too much,” or “you buy too many shoes,” or “you should go to church on Sunday,” or “you need to settle down and have kids,” that’s just their opinion based on their limited perspective and we can safely tune them out. 😀

Don - October 9, 2012

“For me, the distinction depends on whether they are sharing a fact-based observation or a subjective opinion and judgment.” I agree with you Nancy – that’s the key issue.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

The more mindful we become about our thoughts, words, and deeds, the easier it is to evaluate the input offered by others.

After all, subjective opinionated advice arrives daily on a myriad of topics ~ who to marry, whether and when to have children, what career to pursue, the food, books, and movies we should consume, the car we should drive, the clothes we should wear, the religion we should follow, the sexual positions we should master, where we should vacation, and even whether we should have a natural or artificial Christmas tree!

When people offer well-meaning advice, they are merely saying what they would do if they were in our shoes. Only they are not in our shoes ~ we are! :mrgreen:

2. JOriginal Muse - October 9, 2012

Very insightful indeed and relevant for me ~ especially this week. Thank you, Nancy 😉

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

Yay! I love hearing that a post is both relevant and timely! 😀

3. jannatwrites - October 9, 2012

The problem with forming a judgment about someone’s reputation is that they may not have the same goals and philosophies that we do. I liked the example in your comment about the desire to reduce clutter but then buying 3 pairs of shoes. I think we all behave inconsistently at times, but with self-monitoring, we can get in a better position to reach our goals.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

Exactly! If we are being mindful, we are in the BEST position to know whether or not our current priority (e.g., to curl up and read a book) should over-ride our previously stated priority to exercise more or to cook a gourmet dinner or . . . to do whatever.

We are the only one with a Bird’s Eye View to all our competing priorities. :mrgreen:

4. kateshrewsday - October 9, 2012

I love your last line, Nancy. Our relationship with ourselves is the most important: I don’t often hear that expressed. In fact, it has set me thinking.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

The reflection I see there every day is the only motivation I need to succeed on matters that matter to me.

That reflection also keeps me honest . . . it knows ALL my secrets. 😀

5. bluebee - October 9, 2012

Dr Seuss has got it right.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

Dr. Seuss was smarter than the average bear. 😀

6. aawwa - October 9, 2012

Really well said! I enjoyed that thanks – a good reminder.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

Thanks, aawwa! Many of my posts are “reminders” . . . after I’ve noticed myself falling back into a bad habit. 😉

7. suzicate - October 9, 2012

“When we stop hiding who we are, we have more energy to become more fully who we want to be.” ~so very true.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

When we are no longer afraid of what “they” might think of us, we feel free to be who we want to be . . . even if that means wearing purple hats and polka dot socks! 😀

8. Andra Watkins - October 9, 2012

I used to bemoan the fact that people can’t seem to move on when I have, Nancy. It is frustrating, but something I cannot get bogged down and dwell on.

nrhatch - October 9, 2012

Yes! People like consistency. They want to know what to expect from us. So they resist our efforts to change . . . even for the better.

Silly rabbits! :mrgreen:

9. Hudson Howl - October 9, 2012

For myself, when I clicked on the enable button for wordpress I really did not know what it was about, then once I did I really did not know what to post -putting thoughts to words then sharing -yikes. Though from the early beginnings there seemed little choice but to expose little bits of self. You might not get the entire picture but you get, albeit the essence of H.H. And oddly enough people identify with some of it. True enough peoples perception of us is more one of the physically outward or based a perception of our actions which in all likelihood was made wrongly. In part that is why I use Hudson Howl and not my real name, so that people who know of me won’t look at what is written based on their perception of me; that which ends up in a post has own life.

This made me think and am still thinking, so I thank you for that. I don’t think this was completely germane to what you were trying to get across, but for me it is closely related.

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Thanks, HH! Great insights about how we deal with people’s perceptions of us, both in cyberspace and more directly.

When we choose NOT to use our real name, we can leave the past (and all its attendant “bag and baggage”) at the cyber-door and enter the cyber arena “anonymously” before an audience that has no pre-conceived notions of who we are. We are freed of external pressure to conform to who we used to be.

As soon as we enter the arena, we start to form new ties with our cyber audience, and those we interact begin to form impressions about who we are and we share bits and pieces of our past, present, or future. And, in time, we have a cyber identity . . . we are no longer “anonymous.”

10. Pocket Perspectives - October 9, 2012

yes, as you say….lots of silly rabbits! I like how you tied in impressions with impressionism…I never thought of that correlation…that’s it!…helpful, indeed! (Nancy, there is really A LOT of wisdom in this post…several of the paragraphs could practically be expanded to become chapters in a book…hmmm???).

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Well, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to write it, Kathy ~ I tend to work in the opposite direction . . . condensing thoughts, not expanding them.

Some of the thoughts in this post may be based on a book I read and distilled down to its essence for “portability.” 😆

11. Three Well Beings - October 9, 2012

This is very helpful to me. I like the art analogies. It’s so true! I am sure I’m also not seeing my friends with the clearest of lenses either, but there is freedom in just recognizing that we can’t adapt to each person’s ideal of us anyway, so there’s a freedom in just being ourselves. D

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Yes! It works both ways. Whenever someone “surprises” us with their actions, we can use that as a prompt to open our eyes a bit wider and SEE THEM again . . . for the first time. 😯

As we go through life, Ego distracts us and tricks us into getting worked up about “nothing” . . . including our reputations. If we spend our days trying to correct the mistaken perceptions others hold of us, we will have little time for anything else.

“He who trims himself to suit everyone else will soon whittle himself away.” ~ Raymond Hull

Three Well Beings - October 10, 2012

Thank you for that Raymond Hull quote, Nancy! That’s a keeper!

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Great quote . . . which distills the concept down to the essence.

12. sufilight - October 10, 2012

I don’t dwell too much in the past, but, reading your wise post, I recall that my ex once accused me of being a very selfish woman. I have my faults but selfishness is not really one of them. As a matter of fact, I had to learn to be more selfish. Point being he was very selfish with me, and he in one moment of clarity and introspection admitted that the issue of selfishness was his. One can pretty much tell what is going on deep inside of us by the judgments we make. .

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

That’s a PERFECT example, Marie! Thank you.

Every time someone has accused me of being selfish . . . it’s because I wasn’t doing what THEY wanted me to do. 😀

And you’re right about the last too ~ often when people judge us as lacking, they are perceiving a shortcoming they share.

13. sweetdaysundertheoaks - October 10, 2012

Very interesting Nancy. I worry little about what people think of me(but as you know I do CARE what certain people think but hey, what can I do) because there are few people other than family that I spend time with. We are isolated living in the country. Family however have formed an opinion of me and nothing I do will change that opinion. No matter that I have changed thru the years and am not even close to being the person they first knew. I think I stay pretty guarded and keep people at a distance. I would like to say that I would like to be the spunky Pixie I was in my late teens and twenties but it got me in trouble.. 🙂 I have let the spunkiness come out with my MIL and CH’s family a few times when I could no longer take their assumptions about me without saying something. So I do care. Hmm, family stuff must be on my brain this morning.. 😀 Also I have cut old friends loose from my life that were wearing me out emotionally or whose values were so totally not what I value(speaking of a recent situation related to the treatment of animals specifically kitties) and sometimes I wonder about that…

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

I’m with you , Pix! I rather enjoy shaking up people’s assumptions ~ especially when they want me to conform to some imaginary image they’ve created from bits and pieces of fluff from my past.

They only have a fraction of the jigsaw puzzle pieces available . . . how could they even hope to create a reasonable facsimile of ME? :mrgreen:

Now . . . can Spunky Pixie come out to play today?

sweetdaysundertheoaks - October 10, 2012

She has been giving it serious thought!

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Absolutely! 😀

14. colonialist - October 10, 2012

Tricky. It must be liberating not to give a darn what people think of one, like George Bernard Shaw tended to be, but in many people it results in a very self-centred and unpleasant persona.
Then again, people who pride themselves on ‘telling it like it is’ often say far more than is really necessary, and their observations become hurtful. Generally, one always has SOME sort of mask.

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Hey! Who are you calling self-centered and unpleasant? :mrgreen:

As you say, it’s tricky. It’s not really about not caring what they think ~ it’s about being true to myself whenever there is a difference of opinion between how “they” view me and how I view me.

After all, we can only please SOME of the people SOME of the time ~ if we try to please others at the expense of ourselves, we lose more than we gain.

He who trims himself to suit everyone else will soon whittle himself away. ~ Raymond Hull

Hudson Howl - October 10, 2012

‘if we try to please others at the expense of ourselves, we lose more than we gain’ -I’ll drink to that.

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

*clink* 🙂

colonialist - October 10, 2012

Raymond has the truth of it!

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Ah, yes . . . to thine own self be true.

15. Zen and Genki - October 10, 2012

Love the Dan Zadra quote!

nrhatch - October 10, 2012

Me too!

Our actions are often governed by consensus. Our desire to be accepted allows others to manipulate us through fear and guilt. Instead of acting in conformity with our values, we comply with the expectations of others to avoid their disapproval.

Dan’s quote reminds me that I do not need a signed permission slip to live my life.

16. Perfecting Motherhood - October 11, 2012

People who know me even just one bit know I’m the “tell it like it is” chick. No sugar coating from me! I’m lucky to say most of my friends behave consistently and it makes for great relationships. I know a few people with whom you have to wait and see how they behave on a specific day to figure out if this is a good or a bad day for them. It drives me nuts.

nrhatch - October 11, 2012

I’m with you, Milka! I’d rather be around “tell it like it is” folks . . . “beat around the bush” folks tire me out. 😀

17. Barb - October 11, 2012

This is a constant process of checking in with myself. Somedays…I’m not so honest with the person in the mirror.

nrhatch - October 11, 2012

I expect that the “person in the mirror” knows all your secrets, Barb. You can fool some of the people all of the time, but somewhere, deep down inside, we always know when we are falling short of who we want to be.

When I stopped worrying incessently about what others thought about me (and everyone else), and stopped worrying about what made X,Y,and Z tick, it freed up time to focus on: who I was, who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to live. Now, when I check in with “the man in the mirror,” I give myself a quick “once over” and pose an unspoken question, “are you who you want to be?”

That’s the goal, to me, to be able to say with conviction ~ “Who I am is who I want to be.”

When we know WHO we are, we know HOW to live. ~ Goethe

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