As a journalism major, I will take many communication classes and therefore have to study various theories regarding people and their thought processes. Many of these theories could be filed under psychology and how the brain functions, but you can also look at it through a communicable aspect in order to understand the reasoning behind why people choose to say certain words in certain manners.
Our entire understanding of the world has been, and will continue to be, influenced by our own perception of what is around us. As people we have come up with pre-defined meanings and interpretations for things based on prior experiences and events. Therefore, we cannot entirely see something through someone else’s perspective, or even imagine ourselves in their shoes. Because by imagining to be someone looking at yourself, you are using your own opinion on how people see you, rather than how the person views you. Interactionists call the phenomena of imagining how we look to others as “the looking glass self.” The A First Look at Communication Theory –Ninth Edition textbook defines “the looking glass self” as “the mental self-image that results from taking the role of the other; the objective self; me” (pg. 58). If the theory of communication is anything, it is a process of vocabulary words one must understand. Therefore, to put it in other words, a looking glass self can be described as pretending to be someone else in order to view yourself. Easy enough? Sort of.
The term “I” is the subjective self, “the spontaneous driving force” (pg. 58). What do I look like to them? Who am I? What am I going to do? While the term “me” is the objective -- “The image of self - seen when one takes the role of the other” (pg. 58). The text gives examples from social constructionist Herbert Mead in order to better understand this concept. “If the ‘I’ speaks, the ‘me’ hears. And the ‘I’ of this moment is the present in the ‘me’ of the next moment” (pg. 59).
If that wasn’t complicated enough, the concept of “generalized other” also can come into play. This concept essentially is explaining that the mental image you have of yourself is due to societal expectations and its reflection upon yourself.
The majority of us have probably created our sense of self through other people and their expectations -- who we believe they want us to be based on conversations and responses. Perhaps that is why most people have varying personalities depending on who they are with. One acts one way with their professor in order to meet the expectation. They act another with their family, to fit a portrayal. They then continue to become another character when they are with their friends. It’s a continuous and inevitable cycle.
But I believe it is important for people to understand as one self, you cannot fully know what another thinks of you or know what their expectation for you is, without clearly communicating it to one another. You can imagine being them and seeing you, but that still reflects your impression of yourself with regards to how you see their expectation of yourself. This can affect everything between how you behave in total and how you choose to interact with people. A small example can be found in how you greet people. Using examples from before, greeting a professor most likely would go along the lines of, ‘Hello, how are you?’ Greeting family may sound a little more relaxed, ‘Hey what’s up, how are you?’ While greeting friends will be comfortable, and the set of vocabulary you choose to use may be completely different, such as, ‘What’s good?’ Your choice of words and expressions is a direct reflection of your assumed expectation. This is an example of the communication aspect of influence in personal self, rather than psychological reasoning.
We do not know what others think of us. Only what we think others think of us. Even if you try to detach the self when you look at something or someone through someone else’s eyes, you can still be blinded by your own perception. I think it’s okay to be blinded sometimes, but don’t allow it to become your light.