What does this image make you feel?
It makes me anxious.
I take it to be sarcastic in the thickest way: a stereotypical woman from the 50's whose wide eyes and open mouth imply that she has not much in the way of intelligence but plenty of attention to her style. The dots insinuate innocence and naivete and the "WOW!" she utters derives from someone easily impressed. (In fact, this came from an article entitled "How to Impress a Woman with your Watch" and all women know that is the best way to win us over!)
This is my impression of the image.
I got an email recently that had this tone. It was smarmy and mocking and made my emotions light up. I was ticked off and actually had tears forming I was so upset.
Lucky for me, I was able to calm that rush of emotions and drop the guard that flew up as soon as I felt it. I have been reading this book (you are here by Thich Nhat Hanh) that encourages you to seek understanding and question whether your impressions are correct. So, I let my guard down and asked about the email in a way that was genuine. I wanted to know why this person would be so nasty to me. I did my best not to be defensive. Come to find out, I was way off. They were not being nasty to me, but rather trying to make a joke. I was not in a place to receive it that way, so my reaction was a far cry from the expected.
Why does this matter on this blog? Well, first of all, writing helps me sort my thoughts so you all are stuck hearing it! Also, though, I have used this strategy several times only to discover that my perception was not as accurate as I had assumed. I've been thinking about how if this applies to me, maybe it would also work for someone else. Maybe that person who has been such a crab lately really has some internal struggles. Perhaps that kid who keeps distracting the whole class has some more to his story. Maybe that look someone gave the other day was not about me after all. Difficult as it is to imagine, maybe everyone else's actions are NOT about ME! Once you become aware that your impressions (first or 500th) are not always reality, you start to see this everywhere.
When I think about impressions, I realize there are so many meanings to the word: We can make a figurative or literal impression; We can get an impression; We can try to impress something upon someone; We can try to impress someone. All different things. (Not to mention torment for an English Language Learner!) Sometimes, the impression we get from someone stems from the goal of us trying to impress them!
As for me, letting go of my first impression helped me try to set things straight and end my day with positive vibes. I hope this might work for you too!
I am a high school teacher in Wheatfield, Indiana, trying to reach out to my kids in a way that works for them.