How we think we are sometimes differs from how other people think we are.
I’ll give you an example from a client many years ago.
This young man came to see me. He was deeply depressed and upset because the world was very hostile towards him.
He couldn’t understand it because, he said, he was a loving, caring, and joyous person would never hurt a fly.
His self image was missing some important information however.
This young man did not stop talking and he spoke very loudly. He dominated spaces with his body and his voice.
Although he was indeed a very caring and loving person, he had a huge blindspot about how the world experienced him. The world, generally speaking, often got pissed off with him – there had even been physical attacks on him from other people (at bus stops, tubes, sandwich shops).
So, whose perception is right – the young man’s or the world-at-large’s? While there will certainly be those arguing for one or those two camps, I feel that it’s important for both of them to inform identity.
We cannot be who we are without being relational. If we are blind to how other people experience us (and different people might experience us in all kinds of different ways), we are operating at well below the best we can be.