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Psychologists Say This Effect Makes People Become Biased And Feel Lonely

Psychologists Say This Effect Makes People Become Biased And Feel Lonely

Have you ever felt like you were the only one to experience a certain thought, problem or emotion? Feeling this way can be extremely isolating, leading to loneliness and a bias towards negativity. However, just because you feel different to everyone else, it doesn’t mean that you are.

Psychologists have concrete psychological evidence on how similar our hopes, dreams, and fears really are, and how we can use this information to feel happier, healthier, and more motivated.

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An identical personality description can apply to many people.

In 1948, a psychologist named Bertram Forer told his students that he was going to present them each with an individualized sketch of their personality. What the students didn’t know was that each sketch was exactly the same. The sketch consisted of twelve points, which included the following:[1]

  1. You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.
  2. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself.
  3. You have a great deal of unused capacity, which you have not turned to your advantage.
  4. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.
  5. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside.

Does this sound like you? If it does, you’re not alone.

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After presenting the personality sketch, Forer asked his students to rate it according to how well it applied to them. The average rating was 4.26 out of 5, with 5 being ‘excellent.’

This result demonstrates how similar we are to one another, with each student feeling that the twelve statements were uniquely applicable to them. While people may behave in ways that hide feelings like worry and insecurity, studies like this show that they affect everyone. By keeping this in mind, you’ll find it much easier to relate to others and form genuine connections.

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Most humans have very similar needs.

In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow proposed a ‘hierarchy of needs,’ which represented a variety of human needs in the form of a pyramid.[2] The idea of the pyramid is that in order to move to the next level, the needs of the level below must first be met. For example, before you’re able to fulfill the need for friendship, you must first fulfill basic needs like food and water.

All humans have the same basic needs.

At the base of the pyramid, physiological needs like air, food, and water are listed. The next level deals with safety needs, including personal and financial security. Next comes the level which deals with love and belonging, and includes the need for family, friendship, and intimacy. The next level is labelled ‘esteem,’ and refers to the need to be respected by others and by ourselves.

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Respect from others could come in the form of recognition for achievements, positive attention, or high status. Self-respect involves personal strength, independence, and freedom, regardless of others.

We all want to achieve our full potential.

The next pyramid level is labelled ‘self-actualization,’ which refers to achieving your full potential. The way this level manifests itself could be different from person to person – while one might dream of becoming a famous artist, another could aspire to become a successful writer. While our dreams may be different, this theory suggests that the route to achieving them is actually very similar.

Helping others is important for everyone.

While self-actualization was once considered the top of the pyramid, Maslow actually added another layer later in his life. This layer is labelled ‘self-transcendence,’ and refers to achieving altruistic goals, outside of the individual. This could involve charity work, helping others, or helping the environment.

By remembering that we’re fundamentally very similar to other humans, it’s much easier to avoid feeling negative and lonely. Rather than focusing on the ways you feel different from others, try to direct your attention towards everything you have in common. You’ll feel happier, more motivated, and more connected to others.

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: Forer effect
[2] Simply Psychology: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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Eloise Best

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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