We continue with our series “I love ME” today by joining the conversation initiated by Soul pancake and Darling Magazine in this

clip

that talks about “perceptions”. Also enjoy a wonderful

poem

by

Natalie Patterson 

Perceptions are like words in that they are powerful and can shape our reality. Today I want to share an exercise that you can do for yourself but also with friends as you heal and grow together towards freedom from the trap of comparison and other people's perceptions.

I have received wonderful feedback from

last

two

previous

posts that are part of this series, and this week, I would love to hear more from you and get to know you a little better.

How do I perceive others? How do I think others perceive me?

I must say that my perception of myself and others has changed over time. I find that the more gentle and confident I am with myself, the more it translates into a more positive perception of others.

I see myself as being strong if need be, but that strength has different facets. Sometimes the strongest thing I have done is surrender, or cry with someone that is hurt and feel empathy. I also perceive myself as a very compassionate person and highly allergic to injustice. This is something that only my closest friends and family know but that does not come across as obvious when you first meet me.

Perceptions are powerful and we all react to them. We do it in various ways yet the manner in which we react can be healthy or unhealthy. The best thing is to take an inventory of other people's perceptions that you've heard about yourself and decipher those which are simply not true and those which are potential tools for growth.

How do I balance other people’s perceptions of me and healthy growth as a person?

By doing this exercise I was able to see how far I’ve come in learning to accept the truthful part of constructive criticism and to letting go of plain old negativity that does not apply to me. I feel that after reaching my mid twenties, I'm much more grounded due an overwhelming peace that comes from being enough for myself. I have to say that, this is very much the result of a long and ongoing relationship with my Heavenly Father, who constantly reminds me that His love can and has made me free.

Sometimes we spend too much time caring about what people think and not enough about what God thinks of us. 

Here are some things that have helped me:

- Finding my true identity by putting my whole existence back in the hands of my Creator. By doing so, all of the lies and trivial things vanish, because His truth quiets all lies.

Surrounding myself with positive, confident, and loving friends that bring out my best attributes. Be careful who you are letting speak into your life because words are powerful.

- Focusing my energy on finding my voice, tapping into my gifts, creating and spreading love instead of comparing myself to others. I have my own journey and I try to keep myself in check whenever I start slipping and desiring someone else’s life when I have a full one of my own.

How do I perceive women now, as opposed to when I was younger?

I now see women around the world as

a global sisterhood.

It's like I am part of this beautiful and diverse group and I have the opportunity to defend, pray, and speak for those that still do not have a voice.

I see women more and more as my sisters and less as my rivals. I see them as partners and international friends that have so much in common with me even if we haven’t met. I see them strong even when they are oppressed; feared even when are silent and forced to be practically invisible. I see them as beautiful even when they are rejected, and powerful even when they are bruised, scarred and abused.

Who will defend another girl or woman if not women themselves?

The importance of knowing for ourselves

One time, Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say I am?” and they all responded based on the talk in town. They told him what others said of him, after which Jesus asked, “Now, who do YOU say I am?” I love that question because it implies the importance of knowing for ourselves who we are and where we're

at

in our journey to truly know our Heavenly Father.

What do people say you are?

Who do you think you are?

Who are you really?

That last question, only the one who made you can reveal it to you. He'll remind you when you feel down, ugly, inadequate, too big, too small, or any other label this world tries to brand us with. Remember that His truth quiets all those lies. Listen to His voice:

You are loved

. You are beautiful.

You are enough

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