Everyone we meet reflects something back to us about ourselves. What are their perceptions of us?

Our self-image comes through a mirroring process in which we mentally review (recreate) our experiences and interactions with people. Some of this review we notice and some is unconscious. Yet it’s all available as information for us. If we’re curious about it we are in a state of being actively aware. Then we can use this information to help us question who we are.

Our unique reality is a reflection of our experiences and thinking: our perceptions .

For instance, years ago in a writing class a fellow student criticized a classmate’s fictional character as being too uneducated to be interesting. My professor explained that this was an assumption (judgment) and that to create a fuller fictional character we must be curious about others, fictional or not.

Curiosity is a way to discover each others’ idiosyncrasies, passions, and hobbies. Curiosity is a way to be more neutral without assumptions. Perhaps creating a fictional character is similar to how we create ourselves: having one experience after another. 

Here’s another example of how assumptions aren’t real.

I was in the bathroom at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC. A well-heeled, middle aged woman had a young woman in tow. She was explaining to her that “opportunities” existed everywhere. To prove her point, the gentrified woman left the bathroom with my shopping bag. It was theft! 

What did I learn? I learned two things: 1. if I act with neutrality I won’t react with assumptions/judgments; 2. each experience shapes my perspective of my next experience. 

Usually I was vigilant with my belongings in NYC. This was an inconceivable act to me. It made me feel uncomfortable because I reacted to who I thought she was instead of seeing her with neutrality. We shared an experience that night and it shaped our realities in different ways. We each processed the raw data of the experience through our unique senses. Our reality is always subjective.

Later a friend stated her assumption that someone lacking in funds is more likely to pilfer from the coffer. From my experience in the opera house bathroom I found this statement false. Our experiences offer us information to make our bubble of perceptions bigger.

I also realize that quiet time gifts my inner being the space to lovingly listen to my sacred heartbeat. It helps me to expand and to love my reality.

Why do we crave more experiences? 

Curiosity allows us to expand our perceptions based on our experiences. Assumptions reinforce a limiting story. 

I’m curious about the story I’m creating. What story are you creating mindfully?