When you take our Perceptual Style Assessment (PSA), your results arrive in an action guide titled Celebrate You. We chose that title very carefully – it reflects the joy and excitement people experience when introduced to the concepts of Perceptual Style Theory (PST) and their PSA results.
I never get tired of watching the magic that happens when someone reads their own Perceptual Style description. It’s honestly profound; there’s a sense of wonder about how the description could fit them so well, followed closely by a sense of deep validation of something they have long known about themselves but couldn’t quite put into words.
People experience the differences between themselves and others but don’t know how to explain or understand them. They are unaware of the concept of Perceptual Style and unconscious of how their PS affects their understanding of the world. They only know that they have conflicts and difficulty communicating with some of the people in their lives.
When they read their own Perceptual Style description, there is more than just a delight in how accurately it fits who they are. There is often a great sense of relief that the differences they experience between themselves and others are not because there is something wrong with them.
This sense of relief frequently becomes joy when they realize that we are telling them that the differences are normal and that it is OK to be who they are.
As powerful as I knew the experience is, I was still deeply moved by a story that a client shared with me recently. During a coaching session a couple of weeks after getting his results, he said to me:
“I was angry as a teenager, and as an adult, I have been unhappy and depressed much of my life. I have been through eight years of therapy, but it wasn’t until after contemplating my PSA results that I finally figured out what I was angry and unhappy about.”
These words were not uttered by someone struggling to make a living or who was a marginal member of society. My client is a successful physician who grew up in a loving home in an upper-middle-class neighborhood that qualified as typical in the late 60s and early 70s.
He is married to a lovely woman, has successfully raised three children, and is happy and content with life from external appearances. So, his declaration came as a bit of a surprise to me. Once I heard what he had to say, I realized that his story was far from unusual and needed to be shared in a public forum. I asked his permission, and he readily agreed.
My client said that at first his PSA results of Activity really surprised and concerned him. Everything he read about Activity exactly described behavior that he had been taught to suppress and control. They were the things that he was judged and punished for as a child.
Reading the Activity PS description made him worry that he had been unsuccessful in learning how to hold those ‘bad’ behaviors in check. His great revelation was that the reason he had been unsuccessful in ridding himself of those behaviors was because, at the core, they were who he was.
His great joy was that PST and Celebrate You told him that it was OK to be himself. His anger as a young child and teen arose from having his natural skills thwarted, undervalued, or ignored. His unhappiness and depression as an adult were due to his inability to stop suppressing his natural buoyancy and high energy level. He realized that he had kept who he really was deeply hidden from the world and, to a great extent, even from himself.
From a psychological perspective, his insight made perfect sense to me. In essence, the message he had received from his parents was “Don’t be you.” As humans, we can adapt our behavior to whatever is required of us, but the core of who we are as expressed by our Perceptual Style cannot be changed.
The inevitable conclusion most humans will come to when faced with such a dilemma is that there is something wrong with them and that who they are is not OK. Stated differently, we conclude that we are not loveable, interesting, or worthy.
The anger that an adolescent experiences at having their core being denied transforms into sadness and depression as they resign themselves to being a “responsible adult” who has to keep their natural skills, whatever they are, in check in order to adapt and fit in.
Luckily for my client, his core was just hiding, waiting for him to rediscover it. He was ready to hear the message that it was OK to be him, and his PSA results and Celebrate You were the catalyst that gave him the permission he needed to do precisely that – celebrate who he really is.
His story made me wonder how many of us got similar messages in the service of molding us into successful adults. A recent Gallup survey revealed that 85% of people dislike or hate their jobs. How many of them feel that way because their work allows them no expression of their natural skill set?
How many people live their lives vaguely dissatisfied or unhappy for no apparent reason simply because their core Perceptual Style has been repressed? The answer to all three questions, I believe, is many more that we know or suspect.
Don’t be one of them. Discover how to Celebrate You! Take the Perceptual Style Assessment today!
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