My perception of you…

My perception of you…

“Receive what is in me that is you”

 Alejandra Pizarnik


Imagine a book with only the cover left, or a photograph worn out by time or cut in half… they are mysterious objects, remnants of things that once existed but no longer do; they exert a kind of fascination that attracts us, almost like “magic” that automatically urges us to imagine what the book would be like or what part of the photograph would be missing.

This also happens when we meet someone. The fascination is almost immediate and, without realizing it, a kind of “magic” is released that leads us to fantasise about that person’s thoughts and life. This happens mostly because the psychophysiological mechanisms in our body act to ensure that we are aware of our surroundings on the one hand and, on the other hand, to fill the empty spaces of the unknown to ensure balance (homeostasis) is maintained. This is what underlies the attraction we often feel when we meet someone who turns out to be a mysterious or complex person.


This is a fantastic phenomenon because we do not even realise it, i.e., we do not need to stop to think or consciously trigger this process, it just happens. The same phenomenon occurs all the time in the context of our social relationships. We usually do not need to make a conscious effort to remember the names of the people we regularly spend time with, where they live, or what is common in our life story. We simply remember, almost as if by “magic”, an endless array of things about various people and contexts in which they are inserted. It is as if the brain were a kind of studio for developing scenarios and memories that we didn’t even imagine existed.


But this “magic” carried out by the brain is no trick nor does it happen by chance; it is part of a set of tools and cognitive skills that enable us to process almost instantly and simultaneously thousands of stimuli from two sources: that which is external and that which is internal or within ourselves. The integration of the information resulting from this information processing results in what is conventionally called “the human mind”; it is thus built mainly based on our experiences and the lessons we learn from them and that, combined with genetic predisposition, strongly contribute to our sense of individuality and uniqueness. What do we like to feel? That we are unique and special!


The mind is therefore our own belonging, it is unique and cannot be replicated. Our mind leads us to build the notion of the «I», which is a kind of representation of our body in our Brain (including every sensation, emotion and feeling).

The «I» thus works as a data processor, a kind of filter, responsible for the integration of information coming from the inside (physical sensations, emotions, and feelings) and from the outside (stimuli from the senses).


This is how, in any given situation, «I» make a certain assessment, which allows me to build «My» perspective. It is therefore difficult to remain neutral in assessing certain situations; and this is also one of the great challenges posed to Psychotherapists, i.e., to abstract themselves from their personal perspective about their patients’ problems.


All these mechanisms rely on unconscious and conscious processes.

I invite you to become aware of things for 10 seconds…

Certainly, most of you stopped to look around, or to notice the sounds, colours or objects present in your surroundings.

It is curious how when we think of “consciousness” we direct our attention to things which are external to us (becoming aware of colours, sounds, scents, people). This said, consciousness is largely dependent on what goes on inside of us (being aware of feelings and internal stimuli, such as being hungry, afraid, thirsty, or angry, or being aware of the effect that certain sounds have on us, for example).


Consciousness is a waking state responsible for the ability to represent within us and through mental images what surrounds us (our awareness of the world) and is a highly adaptive mechanism, almost like a defence weapon that makes us flexible and capable of having behaviours which favour life and our survival.

It is also on the basis of this process that we build the notion of «You», another concept outside the «I»; more specifically, the conscious representation of our bodily and emotional states leads us to infer about the bodily and emotional states of others; if faced with a certain situation, «I» felt a certain way, I therefore imagine that, or it is likely that faced with the same situation, «You» will have a similar feeling; these are the foundations of empathy, which is also a kind of “magic” that allows us to almost “guess” what others may be thinking or feeling.


We all know the importance of social interactions for our development and well-being as people; it would be almost impossible for us to survive and have a balanced mental health if we lived in complete isolation or without any kind of social contact. However, social interaction can also generate emotional imbalances and maladjustments, especially when the relationship between the «I» and the «You» is not balanced enough to promote well-being. This is the case, for example, of some love, work, or family relationships (in my view, all human relationships, regardless of type, are mainly emotional relationships, because they depend to a large extent on the emotional states of each one).

We also know that many of the existing imbalances and conflicts in relationships depend considerably on the assessment that each of the actors makes about concrete situations; that is, in a given situation, the «I» makes its assessment and tries to infer what «You» might be thinking or feeling.

Therefore, for the «I», the «You» is like a kind of projection of itself and it is in these processes that most misunderstandings are generated; Many conflicts between people end when each one’s points of view are clarified and the conclusion is reached that it was all a misunderstanding (a misjudgment) of what the other thought or felt, “I thought you had done this because ‘you’ felt a certain way, but after all…”.

For example, let’s imagine that we are angry with someone and naturally we develop a certain aggressiveness towards that person; this aggressiveness almost always makes us interpret the behaviour of others as being directed at us, as if they wanted to attack us; we start to attribute to them the quality of aggressive (when in fact, in this case, the aggressiveness is already inside us).

Another example, quite frequent in love relationships: when we feel undervalued by the other person, everything he does will be seen and analysed in the light of this devaluation; even the signs in the opposite direction (when they value us we can feel that they are only compensating us); everything is analysed in the light of this feeling, and the anger and distrust generated by it makes everything the other person does or says become insufficient. As a result, we always feel undervalued. If what others do is never enough to make us feel valued, perhaps it is our emotional apparatus that is tuned to perceive everything as an act of devaluation.

Many misunderstandings and failures in communication between people are the result of misjudgments about others (but just because “I” thinks or feels that way does not mean that “You” think or feel the same way).

Our evaluation of others is never neutral or unbiased, because the evaluation of what “You” are always depends on the experiences and perceptions of the “I” and what I am.

As in a film in which each actor plays a certain character, and where actor and character are often confused, in the field of relationships not always everything is what it seems, essentially because what we think we know about others is largely dependent on what we know about ourselves; That’s why our mental representation and supposed knowledge about others, largely depends on what is “mine” projected on “you”, that is, on my perception of you!



Rolando Andrade

Clinical Psychologist


Sports Psychologist

professional ID OPP 4365





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