Many people hate the exercise called: “Find the good in another person”. It requires them to abandon something they sticked to and to adopt a new outlook. While it seems to be a challenging journey, dropping a chain attached to your ankle often turns out to be a quite pleasant experience.
People have a stronger negative reaction to losing $20 than the positive feelings they have from gaining $20.Very Well Mind
Isn’t the same with reacting to people’s behaviors? Most probably, you’ll have a stronger reaction to bad behaviors not only if the balance between them and positive ones is 50/50. Most probably, you’ll have a stronger reaction even to 10% of someone’s bad behaviors than to 90% of positive ones. Especially if this 10% cut you to the quick.
I like the comparison of people’s predispositions to the ones which occur in the nature. Another day I read that people and electric current have many in common. The electric current needs positive and negative charges in order to run. It’s likewise with people who need positives and negatives to survive. Despite this obviousness, typically we don’t give both the same importance. It causes a serious distortion in our interpretation of who people around us really are.
That’s why in this post I’d like to present you the ultimate guideline on how to find the good in other people. The below step-by-step approach will show you how little is sometimes needed to change the view on the things which seemed unquestionable. Let’s go!
Step 1. Abandon your past
Thinking about what someone did in the past blocks you from thinking who that person is now. How that person improved since then. How that person is acting today. The past can be a rough adversary in the process of seeking the good in another person. I totally understand if it feels stronger than you. For me, it’s not simple either. In general, what happened in the past has got a great influence on my current emotional states. Even if there’s no particular reason to behave in a distant way in relation to a specific person, a subconscious reluctance gets reflected in my attitude. I refrain from a visual contact, I cut the conversation with concise statements, I get myself busy with additional activities. Do I feel good about it? Not at all. On the other hand, I feel powerless when it comes to amending the state of things.
No matter how hard it is, look at how does it affect your well-being. Look how much harm does it to you. How many wounds it causes to you. If you’re somewhat obliged to spend time with a person in whom you don’t see the positive sides anymore, it makes you suffer. Wouldn’t it be easier for you to interact with a person who you like? People may not completely change, but they may evolve in a positive direction. They may try to better themselves. It’s worth at least noticing their efforts, particularly these efforts which are targeted at enhancing the relations with you. Once you notice them, your perspective begins to gradually change. Remember that most of the people don’t give a damn about how you feel. So if you encounter someone who cares and who wants to fix the issues with you, give that person a chance.
Step 2. Abandon your pain
It’s hard to see the positives in someone if that person hurt you. If that person lied to you. If that person cheated on you. If that person disappointed you. It’s normal that in such a case you give more weight to negative experiences even though they overshadow your objective view. But does it change the way you feel? Does it make you experience any relief? I guess it does not.
You know very well that each of us has made something which didn’t resemble who we actually are. In most cases, if something wrong occurs, it’s rather an exception than a rule. For that reason, it seems unfair to define people by their mistakes. It seems unjustified to perceive people in terms of their shortcomings. Would you accept to be viewed only on the grounds of what’s negative in you? I guess you do not.
I totally understand that there’s a number of cases where you don’t want your pain to diminish. You don’t want your anger to become irrelevant. This way you would remain without your arm to defend. You got used to that the pain is a part of your life. On the other hand, you don’t need to dismiss your painful feelings. You can validate them and you can use them to understand better the pain of another person. The fact that someone hurt you doesn’t mean that this person doesn’t suffer. We all suffer and thanks to this suffering we can get closer to each other. It’s thanks to suffering that we may break the walls of our fortress and become more open for people who go through similar experiences. The previous limits may open the room for empathy and compassion. Use your pain to uncover what was hidden for your eyes before.
Step 3. Abandon your pride
In some situations, the problem is not about your inability to see the positives in another person. In fact, you don’t want to see them. Or you see them, but you don’t want to acknowledge them. Why is that? Because of your pride. Your pride stands in the way to accept that everybody does something good despite the number of mistakes and wrong deeds. Your pride doesn’t let you overcome the resistance against the fact that people are not only the sum of their imperfections. They’re more than that.
In one of my latest posts How to maintain an emotional balance when dealing with your family, I’ve been recommending to make a list of all positive traits of your family members you have kind of difficult relationship with. It works very well with every person you have got a difficult relationship with. It helps to see another side of the coin. When you look at such a list, you realize how many good things you overlook in them. Be it on purpose or not, you consider them on the basis of a very limited picture you cultivate.
Another thing is to stop comparing yourself. If you do, you’ll run into searching for every living proof that you’re a better person. Inevitably, you’ll start as well to search for someone’s weak points. Remember that your worth is not characterized by other people’s deficiencies. So no need to waste your energy on looking up the evidence. It doesn’t matter what are your achievements and what are someone’s failures. It all becomes irrelevant when we view people more holistically. When we focus on who they are and not on what they did. Try to look beyond the usual schemas.
Step 4. Abandon your fear
You see in others what you see in yourself.
Often times, you feel insecure. You seek a threat around you. You embrace a skeptical attitude toward some people. You fear the truth about them. About the fact that maybe they’re not so bad as you’re used to thinking. Cherishing negative thoughts about them created a sort of comfort zone for you. It gave you a facility to come up with countless excuses why you don’t want to interact with them. If you dig deep down, you know that reviewing your approach is risky for all the aspects of the game you run. You fear that acknowledging good points in someone will prove that your reasoning was wrong.
Thinking negatively about people is a manifestation of a protective and defensive position. You shift your anxieties and weaknesses to other people. You anticipate the worst as you’re afraid of trusting in people’s good intentions. You fear more disadvantageous outcome than a possible favorable gain. This way, you don’t let positive things happen as you react negatively with the highest alert. Say, your partner comes back home later than usually because of the birthday’s surprise which is planned for you. However, you start to suspect your partner a betrayal and the argument is on the heat as soon as your partner entered the house.
Try not to be led by your subconscious fear. If you get rid of it, you’ll be able to look at people in an open way and to see their strengths. If you start to see positive characteristics in other people, you start to see positive characteristics also in yourself. It’s a win-win process.
Step 5. Abandon your prejudice
It’s not unusual to go cold on someone, even though you don’t know well that person. It’s a kind of feeling telling you not to trust even though the person did not do anything wrong.
A common example of the negativity bias would be our relationship with dogs. Almost everyone has had many great experiences with dogs throughout their lives. But if you were bitten or attacked by a dog, you are likely to be scared of them for the rest of your life because you focus on the one negative experience instead of the many more pleasant ones.Feel Happiness
If you want to defeat your bias, ask questions. You often think that you know everything about a person. That you have got all the answers. Asking questions helps you to get rid of this illusion. Explore the world of another person. Expand your knowledge. Not everything is evident at first glance. As Saint-Exupery said: What is essential is invisible to the eye. You may not know the full story. Search for more meaning. Go and discover something you don’t know yet.
Step 6. Abandon your judgment
It’s difficult not to judge people as we’re taught doing it from our early years. We’re taught to put the labels on everything and everyone we encounter on our way. We believe it saves time and helps to navigate better through the ups and downs of life. The labels come easier if someone’s behavior touches you personally.
Recently I heard a very insightful saying which truly got to me: Don’t judge my story based on the chapter you happened to walk in on. We often forget that people are not the same throughout their lifetime. They go through different chapters of their stories. At some point, as we do all, they experience an unexpected turn of events. It may make them conduct themselves differently for awhile. What’s important to note is that the behavior you see today may have nothing to do with who that person was yesterday and who that person might be in the future. Everything is temporary. Sometimes all you judge is a matter of coincidence, fatal circumstances, not well-thought moves or an accumulation of bitterness.
Furthermore, bear in mind that the way someone is behaving might not be directed at you. Avoid taking things personally. Basically, it might be a general expression of how someone feels, what someone is going through, what causes someone a pain. Sometimes, we find ourselves in the wrong time and wrong place. The way someone behaved toward you might have been provoked by someone else or by an event that had nothing to do with you. You simply became an unexpected witness. Remember about it when you’d feel like coming to an unjustified conclusion.
Step 7. Abandon your rush
Many misunderstandings happen due to being constantly in a hurry. Everything happens so quickly that we don’t have enough time to think and react relevantly. Thus, naturally, the negative assumptions emerge as first. I belong to a group of impulsive people. It’s not surprising then that my first reactions are usually adverse.
That is why I adored the rule of 90 seconds. The term comes from a book of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientists Personal Journey” and says that our reaction to anything which happens is a 90-second chemical process in our body. After that time, the reaction fades unless we decide to sustain it. As you can easily imagine most of us tend to play that reaction in an emotional loop. The result is that we lose an enormous amount of energy for irrelevant incidents.
Since I’ve implemented a 90-second rule, I realized that I was able to release unnecessary emotions straight after the expected time passed. Obviously, it required me to watch the entire process without a single response and to let the negative emotions go. You know very well that the temptation to relaunch the emotional chain is quite strong. Nonetheless, if you manage to withstand the critical moments, you can look at things and people with a clear mind. It helps you to notice much more than you would while allowing yourself to run into disastrous conclusions. It helps you to discover a positive intention behind every action and human feelings behind every statement. Be patient. You’re on a driver seat to better manage your emotions and to see clearer the beauty of other people. To see the best in them.
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