The 1985 featured film The Breakfast Club tells the story of five high school students who have to do detention on their free Saturday. Each and every one has their own reason to sit this one out and there’s no single common ground that one shares with the others: a sportsman, member of the wrestling team, a nerd who’s a member of the physics club, an outcast that in the eyes of everybody else is lacking every responsibility to make it through school, a prom queen whose only concern is her looks and her rep. And there’s this girl who doesn’t have any contact with her parents or any other person for that matter. The worlds couldn’t be further apart from each other. So it seems…
The true essence of the movie is the insight that each and every one of the five students is behaving according to the perception others have about them. Which brings me to the core of this article. No matter how hard we work, often times we’re being lead on subconsciously in our behavior by the way others see us.
Take a look at your profession or the study you take up. Isn’t that one of the first things you mention when someone asks what you do? ‘I’m a manager’, ‘I’m a coach’, ‘I’m a mother of two.’
The way we present ourselves is mainly determining how others will see us: if I’d say I was a circus-clown the first time we’d meet, you’ll probably label me no different the next time we bump into each other.
With this, a vicious circle is born. No matter what you’ll be doing after you meet somebody new, at the time you shook hands for the first time you left an impression that was going to be burnt into the memory of your listener. ‘Weren’t you that clown that works in the circus?’
The choice to see yourself any way you want will always be there though. Unfortunately we don’t reckon that choice too often. And even if we do, it doesn’t mean that choice is going to be an easy one. Who do you want to be?
Because as soon as you taste the liberty of deciding who you want to be, you’ll also realize that no matter what answer you come up with, it will be a limitation to that freedom.
And this is where quantum physics peeks around the corner.
Over the past few years, scientists carried out an experiment known as the double slit experiment. In this experiment they were looking at the behavior of particles and electrons (tiny bits of matter). They put up two slits through which hey randomly fired the electrons. On the wall behind the slit interference pattern arose, stating the particle was acting like a wave – with several interference patterns, and not like a particle. Scientists were stunned. So, those scientists put up a measuring device, to see through which slit the electron went.
But because they were now measuring, the particle went back to behaving like a particle. The conclusion is this: when they weren’t measuring, the particle was behaving like a wave, showing an interference pattern at the back of the wall. When they did measure its path and choice of slit, the particle changed back to a normal particle, just showing two bands at the back of the wall. Somehow the particle knew it was being watched.
There’s an ocean of possibilities when the particle leaves. And as long as we don’t interfere with it, we see the results of that sea of possibilities; the particle goes through one slit, and the other. It goes through both slits, and through neither. How’s this possible?
The answer is not to be found in the particle. Nor is it in the slit. What is?
It’s the observer.
The way you see the world determines how you’ll experience it.
And that also works for other people observing you. They create a model of you (a simplified representation of their reality), which they can use again, and again in future encounters with you. The more frequent they’ll see you in the same setting, the stronger that model becomes and with that the representation or map of the world, of you!
This is how models can affect you, as well as the world big time.
‘Well, damn man!’, you might think right now. ‘Isn’t there anything I can do to influence this all?’ – there is!
At each and every single moment of the day, you hold the power of ho you want to be. Or better said: who you want to be more.
Like in The Breakfast Club, you can see that every single detentionist has more in common with the others than he or she might think. The outcast is also the nerd, the sportsman is also the closed up girl. And they all have a prom queenside.
You’re also more than the label others put on you. Or… you put on yourself.
But how do you change he perception of other people so they don’t see you as just a circus artist?
In all honesty, I have to confess I’m not sure if I can give you an answer. I’m not even sure if that’s possible. The freedom of choice of others to see you as they want is not up to you; it’s up to them.
However, what you can do is change the way y08 perceive yourself. Y0ur map of the world you hold about you is like a dropping snowflake hitting the ground, and starting to roll onto a snowball, perhaps even an avalanche. It’s the essence of change. If you change the way you see yourself, you’ll behave differently and people will see you differently for that.
During one of my first trainings on personal development my coach told me that each part of a system is influencing the other parts of the system. So if you change one part of that system, you’ll end up changing the entire system.
What he meant by that is that when you start working on yourself – e.g. by changing your behavior or altering current limiting beliefs – you’ll slowly but surely change the interaction you have with others (like family, friends, acquaintances, relationships) as well.
For years people saw me as the guy that never would say ‘no’. The one that would go along with everybody, no matter what the flow was. The guy with no borders. The Pleaser. I noticed that in the end it had cost me so much, it made me miserable.
Instead of pointing out the people that could be responsible for exceeding my borders (‘they shouldn’t be crossing them if I don’t feel okay with that’) and seeing myself as a victim of the perception of others, I discovered that this responsibility, this power, was in no other than my own hands.
Now, we’ve moved on a couple of years and I’ve straitened and strengthened my backbone quite a bit. It’s not yet ‘full on’, but I’m getting there. And for certain I’ve become a stronger person. With this change something else changed, and that is the way other people see me. ‘Robert – he’s persisting, a dreamer, a doer, doesn’t take no for an answer.’
And so there are many areas in my life in which I can laser focus on to make the changes within in order to grow. To become the person I really want to be.
It begins with letting go of the labels I’ve put on myself of which I think I need them to survive. You might know this phenomenon as the word image. Whenever you’re willing to let go of your image, you’ll discover your true ‘me’. From there on you can decide which adjustment you’d like to make in order to become the person you really want to be.
Just like in quantum physics, there’s an ocean of possibilities in front of you (and within you) that allows you to live your life exactly the way you want it.
Mahatma Gandhi once said:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts.
Your thoughts become your words.
Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values.
Your values become your destiny.”
With that he underlines the freedom, the power and the possibilities of change.
To our success,