The Perceived and the Perceiver

The looking-glass self, a sociological theory that attempts to explain how we imagine others see us. It’s the self image we have of ourselves that’s seen through other people’s eyes. I found this interesting because it’s something I have been aware of, like everyone I suppose, for a long time but could never articulate it. And now I would like to expand on this thought a little more if I may, by applying the looking-glass self on a wider abstract scale called humanity. Sociology after all is generally a positivist approach to understanding the social being, that’s why it defines us based on society and ‘others’. It doesn’t speak about our oneness bluntly, it simply implies that we are all alike, in our differences. For me I see that the most essential ‘fight’ we came to have in life, is that one we have with our own self, almost all the time. In the looking glass self theory, we not only imagine how others perceive us but we also imagine their judgement on the matter. This idea seems like a natural component of our human psych that essentially aims at making sure our socialisation is intact. It tries to make sure that we go by the rules of the book, the society, the culture, the norm… But how would it influence us if we can be aware of that psychological component?

Through existing we strive to know who we are as individuals as nations, as humans, but more often than not, we externalise the fight into our world. From the individual level to the global. Seeing it from that perspective, I am lead to believe it as very important that we become aware of the process of self awareness in itself. The less we are aware of this looking-glass self, the more we give away authority and control over our existence and mostly not by choice. So then we come and demand freedom from those we have agreed on a fundamental level to give our power away to. Yet, without any over simplification, we always have the choice to take what is ours. What’s ours in terms of power and perceptions, and in today’s world, it’s not a secret that power is in the hands of those who control our perception of reality. I don’t see why it can’t be you and I to have this control of perception when we can actively and consciously make choices. Self awareness results in a true form of freedom that ignites our own authority on our lives as individuals and as social beings. The higher the awareness of how we see ourself and our world, the more willingly our world reacts to us and not the other way around. Sharing oneself with others becomes an interdependent way of life, not a dependant one. Without a single doubt anyhow, the process is a continuous and an evolutionary kind of work. The exercise of awareness is difficult and it is one that needs to be practiced for life. However, as the muscle keeps growing stronger, the fight of existence becomes less about our lack and weaknesses, and more about our empowerment in achieving fulfilment on varying dimensions of the individual, societal and global realities.

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