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Embrace Your Imperfections Because They Make You More Likeable, Psychologists Say

Embrace Your Imperfections Because They Make You More Likeable, Psychologists Say

Nike may have said, “Just Do It,” but Mama always said, “Do Your Best.”  It is the latter mantra that compels many people to strive for perfection in the completion of average tasks and/or professional pursuits. Regardless of the activity seeking completion, no one wants to admit they didn’t achieve their goal or show signs of even the smallest hint of failure. Yet, failures and mistakes help us gain the respect and likability of others. Psychologists have even proven that embracing and accepting the imperfections of yourself and others really can lead to increased happiness.

The Pratfall Effect

Inadvertent, clumsy mistakes make people more likable. An experiment conducted by psychologist Elliot Aronson proved this to be true. For his study, a group of people took a quiz. He recorded their answers but also made a record of some participants knocking over a cup of coffee. These clumsy quiz participants were deemed more likable by the listeners of the tapes. Why? Because their mistakes made them more human.

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The Spotlight Effect

In addition to our mistakes making us appear more human, they also are barely noticed. Think about it–we live in a world filled with people consumed by themselves. Often referred to as self-obsession or self-centeredness, we think only of ourselves and how we are viewed by those outside of us. But if everyone is consumed with themselves, who has time to notice our small mistakes? No one.

The Spotlight Effect simply means that no one notices you as much as you think they do. The spotlight really is not on you. So relax, make mistakes, and laugh at yourself a little.

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What does this mean? This means that being human is attractive, noticed and welcomed.

Embrace and Accept Yourself

How many people are really in touch with their humanity? Being human means we are prone to err, so focusing on our mistakes is, quite simply, a mistake. If we really want to make a difference in the world or even in our own lives, accepting our flaws and imperfections is necessary and maybe even mandatory. If other people like us because they see our mistakes, it is time we like ourselves more because we are imperfect, human and, at times, clumsy.

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In this way, we move forward in life and achieve other goals that are more stellar simply because we offer the world who we really are. Accept yourself!

Accepting Others

The more we accept ourselves, the better able we are to accept others. No one is perfect. Chances are if we can accept our own imperfections, we are less likely to judge, critique, and shun others who display signs of imperfection. The fact that other people are human too means they too will make mistakes.

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Alternative Focus

If we spent less time focusing on our imperfections, we could spend more time paying attention to matters outside of ourselves. Many communities are built and sustained on the labor of men and women who dedicate their time and energy to helping others. If we place our energies and interests on people outside ourselves–people who are less fortunate, lonely or sick–we have less time to ponder our own faults and idiosyncrasies. We benefit by helping others improve the quality of their everyday existence.

A Legacy

Finally, accepting our imperfections, then other people’s mistakes to, in turn, help others, allows us to leave a footprint on the earth that is vibrant and memorable. When people help other people, the universe notices. In time, the hard work and labor of goodwill is rewarded openly, even though the acts were done with a motive to be helpful, gracious, and kind to someone unknown.

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Michelle Owens

Freelance Writer/Editor

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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