As I explored yesterday, our initial self concept is the product of feedback. We get the idea of who we are from how we are seen by others. We incorporate what comes back to us when we put ourselves out there. We're already playing the game of keeping score and knowing the score. We've adapted to the rules and know what will get us in trouble. When we start getting feedback about our personality, we are usually bewildered. It' seems like we're getting told to change the result of the feedback we previously received. We getting messages that put us into a double bind.
For example, if people are being mean to us when we assume we're being nice to them, we may infer we are not being nice enough. We then adapt to our read of the situation by becoming more nice. We then get the feedback that we're too nice and don't know how to respond to that. We may stand up for ourselves when people oppose us and realize they still oppose us. We then stand up for ourselves even more and get told we're obnoxious even though it's good to stand on our own two feet. We may see others as being too serious and try to have fun. We'll watch as them become even more anal. We'll then become even more spontaneous, unpredictable and fun loving. This gets us feedback that we're out of control and uncivilized when we know we don't want to be a sourpuss.
We cannot use the feedback we're getting on our initial identity when it comes across this way. We're inside a vicious cycle that resists what persists, reacts to reactions and opposes the opposition. We're looking in a mirror and thinking we're not seeing ourselves at all. What's out there is no reflection of what we're putting out there. There's no real feedback when it appears we're really being misread, misunderstood and misrepresented. We know we're right about how we're coming across and where we're coming from. There appears to be no way out of this conundrum. We want to get along and get hassled instead. We want to fit in and get into fits anyhow. We intend to connect and get tied up in knots.
The way out is through the looking glass. We step into our reflection to enter a different world. We see what's in the mirror as something that's not in our way, rather it's a way out of our dilemma. We stop reacting to feedback and realize the system that continually produces it is really acting in our favor. We do ourselves a favor that favors others as well.
We may get told we really are a jerk or are acting like a real jerk. We initially oppose the opposition by seeing anyone who could see us that way or say that to us as a jerk. Our identity depends on rejecting the feedback and maintaining our composure. When we reflect on what's really going on here, we realize we are looking in the mirror after all. We are acting like a jerk whenever we see the other is a jerk for telling us we're a real jerk. We point three fingers back at ourselves with the same hand that points out what a jerk they are. We own our potential to react with a knee jerk instinct to protect ourselves, be the one who's right and know who's wrong in an instant.
We may also get told we "have a lot of nerve" to say what comes out of us as outbursts and to act the way we do on impulse. We figure that has to be wrong headed of them to see us that way. We're way better off than those who keep a lid on things and get too uptight to have any fun. We look down on those who keep getting on top of the situation, asserting their authority, and looking down on our frivolity. When we reflect on this strange arrangement, we realize the reflection in the mirror is looking down on us as we look down on them. There's no looking up to each other, looking directly at each other or looking out for each other. All the looking is condescending, arrogant and rude. We suddenly see opportunities that we're there all along to look up, at and out for the others. Our identity gets spontaneously transformed by this new found freedom.
We may also get the impression we're a "high maintenance" family member, coworker or friend. We'll learn others see us as a drama queen, an insecure clinger or an insatiable parasite. We know this cannot be true because we have good intentions and care about others a lot. When those overly dramatic people who say this about us look like mirror reflections of our own hysterics, we get the picture. We see how to change what we do in front of the mirror and watch the mirror change what appears in it. If we want people to cling to us, all we have to do is act clingy and cling to those who cling to us. If we want people to respect us, we put self respect out there, show others the same respect and see it come back like it was there all along. Our self concept changes to identifying with our power to change what appears in the mirror after we successfully reflect on what appears there now. We can be whoever we choose to be once we choose to be who we are right now. We become complete with one adventure and free to play again.