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When I Change The Way I Look At Things, The Things I Look At Change

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When I Change The Way I Look At Things, The Things I Look At Change

We call ourselves the greatest species on earth.

Then it’s only fair that our greatest enemies are ourselves.

Relationships, work, school – it is as if every time you try to take a step forward, your mind whispers to you about how things could be done better, how you should have chosen this option instead of the other one, or how you were the cause of this and that catastrophe.

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What do you do when your mind – someone who is supposed to be your best friend – turned against you? How do you jump out of that self-blaming cycle when you are the one who stuck your foot in the mud in the first place? How do you succeed when your mind just couldn’t acknowledge the small, slow but sure steps you are taking?

Understand this: We see things not as they are but as we are.

First and foremost, we must acknowledge one thing: rarely do we see reality as it is. Be it a friend, a stranger or yourself, we almost always look at them through the colored lens as what we think they are. We have subconsciously allowed our perceptions to dictate what we see. And it’s not completely wrong. It is a system that allows us to quickly come up with decisions and judge whether if someone, or something, is good news.

However, this system is also easily prone to error. It is too often that we have already made the final verdict before we even took the time to understand the person or matter.

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“I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.

We see the potential – good or bad – in things and in life, instead of what they actually are. We hope for the best things and dread the worst. As a result, we are constantly pushed from one extreme to another. We are always riding on an emotional roller coaster – no wonder we feel exhausted all the time.

Stop engaging in an all-or-nothing thinking.

Our minds perceive not only the people and things around us, but ourselves as well.

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Have you ever felt frustrated at yourself when you didn’t manage to follow that workout routine? Have you ever felt disappointed when you didn’t get a perfect score at an exam?

The moment we set our goals at achieving perfection, we are almost doomed to fail. We have to stop telling ourselves that not winning equals to losing. Sometimes, we falter, trip and fall. What matters most is for us to stand up once again and start running again. Let yourself know that it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s alright to take a break sometimes. Your life is a marathon – you got to keep going.

Start positive self-talk.

You would notice that we’ve been talking about our minds as if it’s a sentient being. To be frank, it’s not that far from it. Kali Rogers stated that inner monologues could dictate our emotions, and are even responsible for our self-esteem and worldview.[1] Therefore, take note of your conversations with the mind. Are they negative? Are they laced with words of hate, guilt and anger? Are they solemn, morbid and desperate?

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Once you recognize what you are hard on yourself for, start to talk positively with your mind. Cheer yourself up – by telling yourself how great you are every day. Convince it. Persuade it. It might be annoyed. But eventually, it will cave in, and start accepting that you are, in all honesty, an awesome person!

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change too.

Indeed, we could be lost within the confines of our minds sometimes. But it’s okay. Remember: it’s a battle of attrition. It’s a lifelong struggle to stop yourself from being biased towards others and yourself. Take your time, and gradually, gently guide your perceptions. When you change the way you look at things, eventually you would realize that the things you look at will change too.

Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via Picjumbo.com

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Reference

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Eamon Suen

Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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