How your expectations of others define you; a knee jerk reaction

According to the Oxford dictionary, the word definition implies ‘what is meant by a word, context, action, etc…’. A definition is also intended to communicate something that may not be directly expressed! Hence, how you define yourself may be explicit or insinuated through your actions. How you define yourself, however, is unlikely to be seen in isolation. As humans, we often make inferences based on things we have seen previously. Our brains are conditioned to group like items which helps us to distinguish between things that are clearly dissimilar. Group of items have peculiar characteristics and hence, may be defined! All else equal, a person with a set of characteristics, a.k.a, a definition, would be expected to perform certain functions. Regardless of one’s self-awareness, we all have expectations of ourselves! Clearly, being above average on the self-awareness bell curve puts you at a greater advantage and hopefully, this blog inspires you to make a better attempt at it.

Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Like the chicken and egg question, the current world we live in makes it almost impossible to clearly define anything.

Who am I? People often try to find that in others, rather than themselves! Through words and actions, and based on how much confidence one places in individuals or entities, they adjust to what seems like the ‘norm’. But what is normal or the perception of it? No matter how untrusting you are, there are those people you still expect to do things in a certain way based on how you define them. However, as the world keeps narrowing into a global village and the beauty of heterogeneity is diminished, there is a temptation to accept the ‘norm’ as standard. However, as I have discussed previously, the word ‘normal’ should be replaced with the word ‘average’.

And so what is the mechanism behind the knee-jerk reaction? I have met and interacted with so many humans and to be honest, it is one of my favorite past-times; one-on-one conversations! I love getting to know what makes people who they are. There are those who are always happy, those who always seem to be in a tight spot, and there are those in-between! Conversations with ‘tight-spotters’ always seem to infer that the world is coming against them and they need to be armed and ready to attack. The happy folks who seem to have no cares see their world differently. To be honest, they seem rather taken by tasks and tasks and sometimes ridiculously HARD (did I mention) ‘tasks’, but they really hardly talk about others! Now, one might be concerned about their mental and emotional states as we are bound to be emotionally stressed, one way or the other, considering that’s just a human thing. However, let us consider that further in another post! What I have noticed, however, is the knee-jerk reaction of those on the extreme end of the ‘happy- tight-spotters’ spectrum. While our happy humans naturally respond to all sorts of interactions and confrontations gracefully, our tight-spotters are often in defense mode!

Hence, this leads me back to the chicken and egg question. Because of our ‘expectations’ and not necessarily the reality of the world around us, we may be conditioned to act in a specific manner which may have nothing to do with the reality around us! Hence, is your personality a reflection of who you are or a reaction to the perceived world around you? Who you are, could be an illusion, if you are not self-aware or able to assess your growth, or do not take the time to study your environment; which includes the people around you.

“The more self-aware you are, the closer your true identity is in sync with what you portray yourself to be”

Kukua Anthonyin Annan

I have learned and I’m still learning to adapt to and better interact with my surroundings while remaining true to my identity! The world needs YOU for who YOU are.

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