Would you describe yourself as critical like you can’t help but notice the flaws? Your negative perceptions might be due to projection. Similarly, positive comments can be self-revealing. Basically, you tend to see in others traits similar to your own which are fueled by mood. For example, you are kinder to others when you are happy.
Most things that upset your equilibrium challenge your self-worth in some way. Research conducted by Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology from Wake Forest explains that “Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality.” Consequently, if you are mostly biased to what’s wrong as opposed to what’s right, well you can take it from there…
Change your mind
Take two steps back to see the big picture. Taking the first step helps you to become aware that you are irritable and on a fault-finding mission. Taking the second step involves asking: “What’s going on in my life?”
It’s time to rewire your brain – yes you can do it – small steps, giant gains. Change your verbiage and shift the movie channel in your brain to a positive theme. It takes a little practice, but will soon become a part of you like a reflex action. Whenever you see the negative, begin to focus on what is good about your world – surely there is a little something you appreciate, like being above ground. Act “as if” by verbalizing your appreciation. When you interact with others, keep up the momentum and compliment them genuinely and generously. Consider this little practice a form of self-hypnosis. You will be able to get along with most people – even your mother-in-law.
How to stop re-living perceived indiscretions:
- Become aware when you go into critical mode, something strange happens: you are likely to augment the same trait in yourself. For example, your feelings are hurt because your friend doesn’t like the way your outfit makes you look. You refer to his comment as “brutally honest;” however, when you tell another friend that you don’t like her haircut, you are just trying to be “helpful.” How about seeing your brutally honest friend as helpful?
- Don’t be a mind reader for catastrophe. Sometimes you attribute ill will to people who never intended anything bad. Are you feeling jealous or competitive?
- Keep uplifting reminders close at hand: an inspiring quote about gratefulness, a loving photo, or a beautiful song. When you feel an inner storm brewing, imagine yourself a steadfastly rooted tree and dig in. Take your focus off the pain by offering your brain a positive alternative.
- Deal with any adversity that comes your way by giving at least some part of it a positive re-interpretation – like neutralizing a nightmare with a happy ending.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com