Behavioral Psychology

Personal Revelations Take Time For Others To See

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What happens to a lot of people is that they have some profound insights, some life changing revelations where the way they see the world changes, and they invariably become disillusioned when they realize that people treat them the exact same way as they did before.

It really comes down to an error in perception, where you believe that your own subjective view of the world represents objective reality, so that when you change everyone else should smoothly transition right along with you. But it doesn’t work that way. People can’t read your thoughts, they don’t have access to the innermost chambers of your soul, and even if you explain to them how things have changed for you they probably won’t fully get it.

What people do get is behavior. Your actions, not your thoughts, represent objective reality for those around you. Personal revelations take time for others to see because it’s not enough to have the revelation, you’ve got to enact the corresponding concrete behaviors over an extended period of time that show in no uncertain terms how you have changed.

Part of the reason for disillusionment about a revelation that other people don’t recognize is that you are as dependent on their reinforcements to determine your behavior as they are dependent on your reinforcements to determine their behavior. In other words, if they continue to treat you the same way they did before you will be tempted to keep acting the same way you did before, despite the fact that you feel differently now. The antidote is to raise your conscious awareness about the unconscious pull you feel to keep behaving the same way and to fight against it, continuing to act in a way that mirrors your new insights, whether or not people recognize your internal change. In time they will, and they’ll adapt to it, but to expect them to alter their perceptions right away just because you have is to expect the impossible.