Self-perception Rules the Day

Posted on December 23, 2014 by Robert Ringer


My recent article titled “Reality versus Perception of Reality” got me thinking about just how important self-perception is when it comes to one’s survival. In fact, I am convinced that self-perception pretty much guides every aspect of a person’s life, which places a huge premium on his ability to accurately interpret reality.

When it comes to accurate perceptions of the world around you, your challenge lies in sorting through the endless false perceptions of others and not allowing them to influence your thinking. This includes people whom you have never met, such as those in the media, because even their perceptions have a way of swaying your thought processes.

But while your perceptions of how the world works impact your approach to life in general, how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself (the two being inextricably entwined) play a far more important role in how your life plays out.

The important thing to recognize about how others perceive you is that even though such perceptions can negatively impact your life, they can do so only if you grant them permission — and such permission should be granted sparingly. The obvious problem with allowing others’ perceptions of you to affect your self-perception is that their perceptions could be false.

To underscore this point, consider that most of us tend to form images of actors based on the roles that most define their careers. When I think of Al Pacino, Tony Montana comes to mind. When I think of Janet Leigh, she’s the beautiful blond getting hacked to death in the shower in Psycho. And, of course, Marlon Brando will always be Don Corleone in The Godfather.

But in reality, all of these perceptions are false, based on nothing more than actors doing their job — which is to pretend to be people they are not. These actor illusions serve as graphic reminders that everyone with whom we come in contact forms perceptions of us based on how we look and act.

If someone catches you in a lie, he will think of you as a dishonest person whenever your name is mentioned. If you present a weak posture when interacting with someone, he will remember you as a weak person. If you take five minutes to give someone an answer that could have been given in thirty seconds, that person’s perception of you will be of an individual who has difficulty getting to the point.

Does this mean you should put on an act in an attempt to please others? Quite the contrary. The problem most people have is that they often do put on an act, albeit often unconsciously, when they engage others, which leads people to adopt a false perception of who they really are — much the same as with their perceptions of actors.

All other things being equal, your best bet is to rely on your own unfettered self-perception rather than the perceptions others have of you. The problem with relying on the perceptions of others is not only that their perceptions could be false, they are often based on such shaky factors as invalid premises, jealousy, or outright lies.

As a writer, I learned this early in my career when I noted that the reader letters and emails I received were 99 percent positive, while critical reviews of my works were 99 percent negative. In other words, the opinions of media people have always been diametrically opposed to the opinions of those who have actually bought and read my books.

Thus, I had to make a decision early on as to whether I was going to rely on the opinions of self-anointed experts or those of my readers. As you might have guessed, I decided to take a pass on seeking the approval of media highbrows and stick with the people who shelled out their own money to buy my books. My definition of an expert is someone who backs up his opinion with his wallet.

I hasten to add that what I’m saying here is not restricted to authors. Regardless of your profession, the best way to look at the opinions of others is that some people will like you and/or your products and some won’t. Which is fine. Just make it a policy not to waste precious time on those who don’t appreciate what you have to offer.

Instead, make it a point to concentrate on the people who are enthusiastic about dealing with you and, even better, who buy what you’re selling. This allows you to deal from a position of strength, which makes life not only much easier but much more pleasant. You can save a lot of time and frustration — not to mention money — by simply ignoring your detractors and embracing your supporters.

The most dangerous of all addictions is the obsessive need to try to please everyone. Nothing can screw up your self-perception more than trying to be what others expect or want you to be rather than who and what you really are. One of the most important decisions you can ever make is to break through the chains of intimidation, think your own thoughts, and be who you really are — at all times, in both words and actions.

I don’t know you personally, but I’d be willing to bet that most people like the real you much better than any artificial person you can create synthetically. Leave the make-believe stuff to the Hollywood crowd. They deal in fantasy every day, which, hopefully, is not your skillset.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

16 responses to “Self-perception Rules the Day”

  1. Peter Young says:

    Great advice! I make my living as a sports broadcaster so my work is always open to criticism, critique, or praise. The critique is helpful to improve in my craft. I enjoy the praise and do my best to ignore the criticism.

  2. Diane Young says:

    Once again, your advice is excellent. Like Abraham Lincoln said, "You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time." To thine own self be true!

  3. Paul says:

    Always bring a dose of common sense. You are my favorite author. I'm glad I met (read) you in 1978, if not, I'd still be wandering around trying to make LSD deals. Merry Christmas from a long time fan.

  4. drbuttar Dr Buttar says:


    I am not prone to making comments on blogs but this article that you wrote prompted me to take a few minutes to write something because of how perfectly aligned your message is with what happened last month, believe it or not, regarding you. I am an internationally sort after physician with patients from 83 countries, an international best-selling author (of the "nine steps to keep the doctor away"), have testified before the US Congress, blah, blah, blah!!!

    A few months back, I was invited to give a lecture in the Cayman Islands. I have spoken before audiences that exceed 6000 people and have lectured all over the world. I won't go into the details of the battles that I have fought but suffice it to say, I have deep scars which prove my battle worthiness. The last few years, because of the demand for my time, I have refrained from lecturing unless there was a greater reason for me to go out and give a presentation.

    Initially, I had no interest and giving a lecture at this conference but before my assistant could respond, I learned that you were going to be there. I have been a long time fan of yours and have everything that you have ever written I think. Naturally, my disinterest quickly changed to enthusiasm and we made plans for me to be in the Cayman Islands to give a lecture at this conference. I even had one of my books autographed for when I would meet you to give to you as my gift. However, the gentleman who was setting up the conference, named Pete, called me and told me that there was an issue with Agoura publishing having some type of concern with me being there.

    I was actually quite flattered that little old me would have an impact on them, even though those that have seen our clinical results want to do nothing but to get closely associated with us. But Pete was pressured by Agoura and their perception of me, prevented me from meeting you in person. Why, because of the reputation on the Internet that the media and but the tractors have attempted to paint of me. Yet, as you stated, I sleep very well and my patient base continuously increases. It is just as you said in this article. Embrace those who know you and value you. And ignored the detractors… Because their agenda is always suspect.

    I thought what you wrote about perception warranted me telling you this story and bringing your point even into more clarity, even if just for me personally. I had no issues and didn't really care if Agoura did not want me there because of what are flimsy excuse they had. By the way I'm a life time subscriber to Agoura which I have now canceled. One of my friends, thanks that Agoura was afraid that they would not be enough attention on them if I had been there. The only thing where I may have been upset, if you want to call it that, more disappointed actually, was that I was not able to meet you personally. However, if it is meant to be, I'm sure that our paths will cross in the future.

    On behalf of all your fans all over the globe and those who have followed your writings over the years, I appreciate you and your words Robert.

    Dr. Rashid A. Buttar

    • Richard Lee Van says:

      You are probably perceived as either a nutcase con, OR, a genius. The good of detoxification should be obvious, but, mass consciousness is always behind the forerunners. And mass consciousness appears to be getting worse. And, unfortunately, more powerful and dangerous. Just look at current crises in the world. What to do? Continue to propagate the truth as we understand it, I guess. And NOT LET the negative opinions of others get to us…. which can be difficult.

    • Jems Hurd says:

      Have you heard Dr. Max Gerson and his method for cancer treatment? What do you think?

  5. Paul Anthony says:

    I learned long ago (but perhaps not soon enough) that the opinions of others are generally no more valid than my own.

    • Terence says:

      Yes Paul, its because we as humans are given to learning from our 'own' mistakes, that it takes time and articles such as this to help us get aligned with our own better judgements.

  6. Richard Lee Van says:

    My favorite word is AUTHENTICITY! What is REALITY? Only our perceptions of it. Consequently, everything known is subjective. When many people agree, what do we have? Group subjectivity. And that or those beliefs may or may not agree with some Absolute Reality. I loved being a Philosophy major in college, BA 1959, and reading Philosophy ever since. Pragmatism is appealing because it teaches that WHAT WORKS IS TRUE.

  7. Rick D'Amico says:

    As usual Robert you are right on with this one! I'm approaching 50 years in Broadcasting, And my philosophy, I have learned, is to answer only to my audience. The critics, whether they be other media types, or so called experts, in consulting and management, have almost always been wrong when it comes to who they want me to be versus whom I really am. People always tell me I'm real and tell it like it is, and that is the best compliment anyone in my business can receive.

  8. Robby Bonfire says:

    Hollywood, though stark and especially vulgar, violent and trashy these days, has always been about fantasy, and our enjoyment of delving into that world of escapism, especially since "The Wizard Of Oz" took audiences away from their cares, for nearly two hours, starting in 1939. So that I don't think Hollywood can be assailed for its purveying of fantasy, given that we take it for what it is and they know that.

    The phony part of our society I vehemently resent is that disgusting commercial advertising hoax industry. Every time the glut of commercials come on the radio, I turn the radio off, or the volume completely down, because they this industry, with its moronic flood of "dramatization messages" just wears me down because of my knowledge that it is all lies they are spewing, which they represent as truth and typica "personal experience."

    Radio advertising (I discarded my TV, years ago) falls into two categories, the first being the "seductive" approach, whereby some man or woman is trying to cajole us with a soft and sensual verbal caressing of our sensibilities. The second approach is the "hammer" wherein some jerk hits us with the "THE MAVIS DISCOUNT TIRE SALE IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW" circus barkering.

    My all-time most hated and detested commercial battering ram approach is the G.D. "One 15 minute call could save you money," etc.10+ times daily sledgehammer invading our lives for what, 20 years now? The puking advertising industry has sold its clients on the idea that "impressions" – literally tens of thousands of them directed our way over the decades, will soften our resistance and, somehow put us in a buying the over-hammered product frame of mind.

    What they fail to consider is that some of us dolts out here in radio land have figured out that if this company which promises to maybe save us some money with one 15 minute phone call REALLY wanted to save us money, they would start by canceling their 3 BILLION dollar annual advertising budget and pass that savings on to their customers. It seems to me that starting every year with a 3 biliion dollar "nut" you have to overcome just to break even, is NOT the direct pathway to saving anybody any money, but rather, to charging people even more for your services.

    So I suffer daily – 10 minutes of talk radio programming, then 4-5 minutes of "quick break" advertising, after which the host returns for 30 seconds of blabber, followed by ANOTHER "quick break" of 4-5 minutes of advertising leading into the national news at the top of the hour, which is disrupted by yet more commercial advertising 90 seconds into the lead story blip.

    So put me down as hostile to the advertising industry, the most dishonest, bloated, over-bearing, phony and manipulative fabricated industry ever to come down the pike. Now if you will excuse me, I have a headache, just thinking about it.

    • Charles Martel says:

      Geeesh Robby! I hope you feel better after that rant. What a mess your world must be to react so vehemently to something as inocuous as advertising. There is an out for you however, pay for a subscription with no advertising to whatever it is you like to hear.

      The fact remains, nearly every business, (and your job if you have one) would cease to exist if there were no advertising. It simply is not true what you've heard about the better mousetrap. Nobody comes to your door without advertising. It is clear you've never succesfully sold a product.

      • Robby Bonfire says:

        Well, Charles, for starters the NFL completely lost me with their 12 team time outs per game, plus there 16 per game – "There's a time-out on the field" disruptions, plus there half-time glut of garbage, plus their self-promotional hype.

        My point, which you missed or prefer to gloss over, has to do with the fact that I, for one, don't like having my senses and sensibilities inundated with trash verbiage, x-number of hours per day. And have no doubt, the day I kicked TV out of my life was one of the foremost wonderful and progressive days of my life, a time freedom and priorities liberation I think everyone deserves to at least experiment with.

        Hey, don't be discriminating and buy into the world of junk communications all you like Charles. And good luck to you. If It;s alright, I will continue to model my life on my own values, not yours. Sorry my sharing my perspective with you spoiled your day.

  9. LEE GROTHE says:


  10. Patrick says:

    Robert, i’m so happy I read this I usually just look at the post and assume I knew what you were writting about.
    Self per section is what I have been working on, been hindered with the need for approval was reversing all my efforts. But like you pointed out embracing your supporters , JESUS said let the dead burry them selves.

  11. Heather says:

    A great New Year's read, Robert – Thank You. I value myself by what I do and what I hold important, not what other's think and I generally find that when you stay true to yourself, respect is given even if someone does not agree with you. I would much rather have respect than be liked, when it all boils down to it.