Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all

We all know this phrase from the Snow White, Grimm’s fairytale or various Disney and Hollywood animated or movie versions.  It expresses one of the deepest human desires: we love ourselves and we think of the best.

I do assessments on people starting from age 16 up to mature age. Each assessment has a self-rating, comparison norm against the population and sometimes review from other people. Self-rating is always higher than the norm. A healthy dose of self-confidence is good. It only becomes a problem when the gap between self-perception and the norm is too big. It means it is no longer confidence but arrogance or self-ignorance. You don’t know enough about yourself.

The biggest challenge is when there is a huge gap between self-perception and how other people perceive you. It is rare that other people perceive you better than your own perception. When the people’s perception is much more negative than your self-perception, inevitably there are interpersonal issues. Usually, this kind of relationship has a high level of stress as expectations are mismatched. The level of transparency and trust is low.

We say other people don’t know me well enough or don’t fully appreciate me. The reality of life is, whatever people know, it is a reality and that’s how they see us. Rather than focusing on why and who is perceiving me in such a way, it is better to accept it as it is and use your energy on improvement. 

We are a social animal and who we are and how good we are is relative just as a red dot on a white paper looks redder than a red dot on an orange paper. Understanding the social context and our comparison group is as important as understanding self.