What We Think Others See

I came across a story about a researcher who wanted to do an experiment. This story wrecked me to my core when I began thinking about the impact that our “blemishes” have on us.

Separating the volunteers for this study into 10 different cubicles without mirrors, she explained that the purpose of the study was to examine how other people would respond to a stranger with a physical deformity, such as a facial scar. She used Hollywood makeup tricks, putting horrific scars on the left cheek of the volunteers. She then showed them the “scar” in a small mirror and put it away.

The final step in each cubicle was to tell each volunteer that she needed to put some finishing powder on his or her scar to prevent it from smearing. She went through the motions of finishing the scar, but in reality removed each scar from the face of the volunteers.

Each volunteer was then sent out into the waiting rooms of different medical offices with instructions to notice how strangers in the office responded to the scar. After the appointed time, all 10 volunteers returned with the same report. They noticed that strangers were rude to them, less kind to them, and stared at their “scar;” none of them with the knowledge that they had nothing on their face.

We become preoccupied with our personal flaws, no matter what they may be. We begin to assume that others find them as repulsive as we do; when in reality, most of them hardly notice the things that we think are wrong with ourselves. They begin to consume us…we begin to perceive things that are not happening, often times being rude ourselves, acting as if they have wronged us.

What can we learn from this? Our perception of our selves is vital to our perception of others as we go through this life. If we want to develop lasting and healthy friendships and relationships with others, we first have to take a positive view of ourselves. I’ve heard it said, “You have to love yourself before you can love others.”

I feel like we all need to take a step back and realize that our “Scars” only serve to give us character and purpose. We can use our “flaws” to help us move forward, by accepting ourselves and not allowing our perception of others view of us.

Ultimately, of course, a healthy self-image comes from knowing that God thinks highly of you. He created you and loves you as his child. When you take time to listen to God’s voice telling you who you really are, you will be less likely to worry about what others think of you.


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