Jack Canfield, in chapter 6 of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, admonishes us to become “inverse paranoids.” If you’ve ever known anyone with paranoid tendencies, you know that no matter what someone says or does, this person will be suspicious of their motives. Becoming an “inverse paranoid” means we begin to assume that the other person is out to bless us instead of out to get us!
Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Attitude is more important than facts.” We can control what we feel if we change our attitudes. True, there may be physical reasons why a person tends to be paranoid. Perhaps they would benefit from medication or a good herbal supplement. (Paranoia tends to go along with depression, and St. John’s Wort can really help a person get into a better all around mood.)
Having a clear feeling about others is essential for success in every aspect of life. Do I feel like my spouse secretly disdains me? Do I worry about how people in the store are evaluating my looks? Do I assume this prospective client already doesn’t like me? All of these thoughts can be reversed if I only make the effort. I can choose to believe that my spouse loves me, at least until he tells me otherwise. I can choose to believe the people in the store think I look fine, or more likely aren’t even paying any attention to me. And I can assume this prospective client has a good feeling about me.
So, how do I go about renewing my assumptions? How can I convince myself that others like me and want to do me right in business and social matters?
1. I can build self esteem. Experts might not always agree on the best way to do this, but gaining competency at some skill usually helps. I can take an inventory of everything that’s admirable about me. Why wouldn’t people like me and want the best for me?
2. I can start now to eliminate worry from my self-talk and habits. I can pay attention to little negative attitudes and get rid of them.
3. I can ask a trusted friend to tell me my blind spots. If we sense that people are responding negatively to us, maybe we have some quirky habits that irritate others. A good friend might be willing to fill me in on these if I can accept a little constructive criticism. And then, I can act with resolve to change these unknown, irritating habits.
Often, however, changing my assumptions about others is a simple choice. I can choose to turn my paranoid around into a hopeful expectation of respect and courtesy.
Peale, Norman Vincent. The Power of Positive Thinking
Barbara Wood is a writer and educator living with her family in the Missouri Ozarks.