Making a good impression
When I don’t see What I really am here to myself, I inevitably waste much time imagining how I appear to be over there to others, what they are making of me, how I’m going over, the face I’m presenting to them. And my self-concern, my lack of genuine interest in them, my anxiety to make a favourable impression, are enough to ruin that impression. Moreover my behaviour follows suit: my reactions grow bungling and nervy, and the self I present is worsened further. I’m very aware that I’m projecting badly. The whole enterprise is miserably self-defeating.
But when I do see What I really am here to myself, I find myself ceasing to care how I look over there. All that interests me now is what I actually find instead of what I imagine: I take myself exactly as given—as mere capacity or empty room—and others exactly as given—as filling this room with their fascinating shapes and colours and movements and speech. Now my new-found attention to and enjoyment of these others, along with my lack of anxiety about myself, ensure that my responses shall be much more sensitive, swift, spontaneous, and (in the long run) appropriate. No doubt the others are better served now, but how I’m going down with them is none of my business. My business is what impression they are making here, and upon Whom.
The problem of social relationships is solved by seeing Who I really am. Satisfactory projection goes on out there only when it’s allowed to look after itself, and I look after its infinitely resourceful Source right here. Such is my own experience, and I doubt whether I’m exceptional.
From the article Making A Good Impression, published in As I See It, a collection of essays by Douglas Harding.