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A Simple Way To Boost Social Confidence

An easy self-affirmation exercise helps reduce social insecurities for at least two months.

Sometimes in life we get exactly what we expect.

Nowhere is this more true than in social relations.

When we meet someone new, if we expect to like them—for whatever reason—then they tend to like us.

If we experience apprehension or nascent dislike then things can quickly go wrong.

Psychologists have called it the ‘acceptance prophecy’ and there’s more about it in this article: The Acceptance Prophecy: How You Control Who Likes You.

The problem is that for insecure or socially nervous individuals it becomes the rejection prophecy.

A feeling of apprehension about meeting new people is outwardly expressed as nervous behaviour and this leads to rejection.

But a new paper published in Psychological Science provides a simple exercise that helps boost relational security and should help turn the rejection prophecy back into the acceptance prophecy.

 

Self-affirmation

Stinson et al. (2011) measured the relational security of 117 participants by asking them how much they agreed with statements like: “My friends regard me as very important in their lives” and “My partner loves and accepts me unconditionally”.

Half of them were then asked to do a very simple self-affirmation task.

Participants looked down a list of 11 values including things like spontaneity, creativity, friends and family, personal attractiveness and so on.

They put them in order of importance and wrote a couple of paragraphs saying why their top-ranked item was so important.

The results showed that this simple task boosted the relational security of insecure individuals in comparison with a control group.

Afterwards their behaviour was seen as less nervous and they reported feeling more secure.

And when they were followed up at four and eight weeks later, the benefits were still apparent.

It appears that even a task as simple as this is enough to boost the social confidence of people who feel insecure.

source: PsyBlog
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Leave a comment

A Simple Way To Boost Social Confidence

An easy self-affirmation exercise helps reduce social insecurities for at least two months.

Sometimes in life we get exactly what we expect.

Nowhere is this more true than in social relations.

When we meet someone new, if we expect to like them—for whatever reason—then they tend to like us.

If we experience apprehension or nascent dislike then things can quickly go wrong.

Psychologists have called it the ‘acceptance prophecy’ and there’s more about it in this article: The Acceptance Prophecy: How You Control Who Likes You.

The problem is that for insecure or socially nervous individuals it becomes the rejection prophecy.

A feeling of apprehension about meeting new people is outwardly expressed as nervous behaviour and this leads to rejection.

But a new paper published in Psychological Science provides a simple exercise that helps boost relational security and should help turn the rejection prophecy back into the acceptance prophecy.

 

Self-affirmation

Stinson et al. (2011) measured the relational security of 117 participants by asking them how much they agreed with statements like: “My friends regard me as very important in their lives” and “My partner loves and accepts me unconditionally”.

Half of them were then asked to do a very simple self-affirmation task.

Participants looked down a list of 11 values including things like spontaneity, creativity, friends and family, personal attractiveness and so on.

They put them in order of importance and wrote a couple of paragraphs saying why their top-ranked item was so important.

The results showed that this simple task boosted the relational security of insecure individuals in comparison with a control group.

Afterwards their behaviour was seen as less nervous and they reported feeling more secure.

And when they were followed up at four and eight weeks later, the benefits were still apparent.

It appears that even a task as simple as this is enough to boost the social confidence of people who feel insecure.

source: PsyBlog


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What Is Attachment Theory?

Introduction to attachment theory in developmental psychology, including Bowlby and Ainsworth’s contributions, evaluation and criticisms of attachment theory.

Attachment theory is a concept in developmental psychology that concerns the importance of “attachment” in regards to personal development. Specifically, it makes the claim that the ability for an individual to form an emotional and physical “attachment” to another person gives a sense of stability and security necessary to take risks, branch out, and grow and develop as a personality. Naturally, attachment theory is a broad idea with many expressions, and the best understanding of it can be had by looking at several of those expressions in turn.

John Bowlby

Psychologist John Bowlby was the first to coin the term. His work in the late 60s established the precedent that childhood development depended heavily upon a child’s ability to form a strong relationship with “at least one primary caregiver”. Generally speaking, this is one of the parents.

Bowlby’s studies in childhood development and “temperament” led him to the conclusion that a strong attachment to a caregiver provides a necessary sense of security and foundation. Without such a relationship in place, Bowlby found that a great deal of developmental energy is expended in the search for stability and security. In general, those without such attachments are fearful and are less willing to seek out and learn from new experiences. By contrast, a child with a strong attachment to a parent knows that they have “back-up” so to speak, and thusly tend to be more adventurous and eager to have new experiences (which are of course vital to learning and development).

There is some basis in observational psychology here. The baby who is attached strongly to a caregiver has several of his or her most immediate needs met and accounted for. Consequently, they are able to spend a great deal more time observing and interacting with their environments. Thusly, their development is facilitated.

For Bowlby, the role of the parent as caregiver grows over time to meet the particular needs of the attached child. Early on, that role is to be attached to and provide constant support and security during the formative years. Later, that role is to be available as the child needs periodic help during their excursions into the outside world. 1

Mary Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth would develop many of the ideas set forth by Bowlby in her studies. In particular, she identified the existence of what she calls “attachment behavior”, examples of behavior that are demonstrated by insecure children in hopes of establishing or re-establishing an attachment to a presently absent caregiver. Since this behavior occurs uniformly in children, it is a compelling argument for the existence of “innate” or instinctual behavior in the human animal.

The study worked by looking at a broad cross-section of children with varying degrees of attachment to their parents or caregivers from strong and healthy attachments to weak and tenuous bonds. The children were then separated from their caregivers and their responses were observed. The children with strong attachments were relatively calm, seeming to be secure in the belief that their caregivers would return shortly, whereas the children with weak attachments would cry and demonstrate great distress under they were restored to their parents.

Later in the same study, children were exposed to intentionally stressful situations, during which nearly all of them began to exhibit particular behaviors that were effective in attracting the attention of their caregivers – a keen example of attachment behavior. 2

mother-child
J. A. Hampton  Topical Press Agency   Getty Images


Hazan and Shaver

Early on, one of the primary limitations of attachment theory was that it had only really been studied in the context of young children. While studies of children are often instrumental in the field of developmental psychology, that field is ideally supposed to address the development of the entire human organism, including the stage of adulthood. In the 1980s, Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver were able to garner a lot of attention, then, when they turned attachment theory on adult relationships. 3 

In their studies, they looked at a number of couples, examining the nature of the attachments between them, and then observed how those couples reacted to various stressors and stimuli. In the case of adults, it would seem that a strong attachment is still quite important. For example, in cases where the adults had a weak attachment, there were feelings of inadequacy and a lack of intimacy on the part of both parties. When attachments were too strong, there were issues with co-dependency. The relationships functioned best when both parties managed to balance intimacy with independence. Much as is the case with developing children, the ideal situation seemed to be an attachment that functioned as a secure base from which to reach out and gain experience in the world.

Criticisms of Attachment Theory

One of the most common criticisms of attachment theory is that non-Western societies tend to offer up compelling counter-examples. For instance, in Papua New Guinea or Uganda, the idea of a child being intimately attached to a caregiver is somewhat alien, and child-rearing duties are more evenly distributed among a broader group of people. Still, “well-adjusted” members of society are produced, indicating that, at least in these societies, some other mechanism is acting in the place of the attachments that are so necessary for Western children.

Evaluation

Attachment theory states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal development.

John Bowlby first coined the term as a result of his studies involving the developmental psychology of children from various backgrounds.

Mary Ainsworth conducted this research, discovering the existence of “attachment behavior” – behavior manifested for the purpose of creating attachment during times when a child feels confused or stressed.

Hazan and Shaver (1987) used the “Love Quiz” to demonstrate the applicability of attachment theory to adult romantic relationships.

Attachment theory has had a profound influence upon child care policies, as well as principles of basic clinical practice for children.

Critics of attachment theory point out the lack of parental attachment in many non-Western societies.

References
1 Bowlby, John. Attachment and Loss. 1969.
2 Ainsworth, M. “Infancy in Uganda: Infant Care and the Growth of Love.” Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1967.
3 Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. “Attachment as an organizational framework for research on close relationship.” Psychological Inquiry. 5 1-22, 1994.


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9 Habits That Can Keep You From Achieving Your Dreams

As a psychotherapist, I get the honor of helping people tackle their goals. Some clients are really inspired to change their lives and just want a little direction getting there. Others feel a bit more hopeless and discouraged about creating positive change. Either way, my job is to help them take the steps they need to make their lives better.

Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter what kind of goal someone is trying to reach—health, financial, parenting, relationship, or career—there are some common traps that can keep them from living their dreams.

Here are nine of the most common traps that could prevent you from reaching your goals—and the strategies that will help you avoid them:

1. Putting your goals off until “someday.”

Since “someday” never appears on the calendar, you’ll probably never accomplish your goals if you keep pushing them off. The best of intentions won’t do you any good without a clear plan.

Solution: If a goal is important to you, create a timeline. Even if you can’t start working on it today, at least tell yourself when you can tackle it. Whether you want to apply for a promotion once your child starts school or you plan to return to college when you turn 40, stop using the word someday.

2. Waiting to take action until you feel “ready.”

If you wait until you feel ready to tackle something tough, you might be waiting a long time. It’s unlikely that you’re going to gain a sudden burst of inspiration out of the blue.

Solution: Change your behavior first. Sometimes, the emotions change later. Take action and you may gain the ambition you need to keep going.

3. Not anticipating the tough times.

Whether you want to get out of debt, or you’re hoping to lose weight, change isn’t easy. You’ll encounter some days that are harder than others and it’s important to accept that there will be a rough road ahead.

Solution: Think about potential pitfalls that you might face and develop a plan for dealing with those times when you might be tempted to give up. When you have a plan, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to keep going.

4. Viewing mistakes as failure.

Progress rarely comes in a straight line. But sometimes people think one step back means they’ve gone all the way back to square one, which causes them to give up.

Solution: Recognize that you’re going to mess up sometimes. But rather than declare yourself a failure, use your energy to create a plan to get back on track.

waiting
Don’t Wait to take action until you ‘feel’ ready.

5. Not making your goal a priority.

It’s easy to say you want to make change but actually doing the work is much different. You have to decide what kind of priority you’re going to give your goal. Otherwise, your intention will get lost among all your other daily activities.

Solution: Identify one step you’re going to take every day and put it in your calendar. You’re more likely to go to the gym, apply for a job, or spend an hour researching a new business idea if you establish a time to do it.

6. Underestimating how hard it will be.

Tackling a new goal is easy but sticking to it is hard. Assuming “This won’t be a problem at all” can leave you unprepared for the reality of the situation.

Solution: Don’t confuse overconfidence with mental strength. Rather than tell yourself it’s going to easy, remind yourself that you’re going to need to work hard to achieve your goals, despite whatever skills and talents you already possess.

7. Giving up before you see results.

Impatience is the enemy of change. And many people struggle to wait for the time it takes to reach a goal.

Solution: Just because you can’t see results doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted. You need to stick to goals longer than you might think before you experience lasting change.

8. Sabotaging yourself just before the finish line.

The fear of success can be a real problem. And if you’re not careful, you might sabotage yourself before you reach your goal. Perhaps you don’t believe you’re worthy of success or maybe you are afraid someone is going to take it away from you.

Solution: Think about past goals you’ve struggled to reach or those you’ve failed to attain. Be honest with yourself about your feelings and be on the lookout for warning signs that you might be throwing in the towel.

9. Setting your sights too high.

If you’re really excited about changing your life, you might be tempted to set the bar really high. If you take on too much too fast, however, you’ll set yourself up for failure.

Solution: Focusing too much on a big goal can be overwhelming. Establish short-term objectives and celebrate each milestone along the way.

Aug 08, 2016         Amy Morin        @AmyMorinLCSW       AmyMorinLCSW.com
Interested in learning how to give up the bad habits that rob you of mental strength?
Pick up a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
Training your brain for happiness and success
source:    AmyMorinLCSW.com     www.inc.com


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Why High School Stays With us Forever

We believe in the free flow of information. We use a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives licence, so you can republish our articles for free, online or in print.

For better or worse, many of us never forget high school: the unrequited romantic crushes, chronic embarrassment, desperate struggles for popularity, sexual awakening, parental pressure and, above all else, competition – social, athletic, academic.

There’s even an entire genre of entertainment that revolves around high school. “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Mean Girls,” “Heathers,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” all revisit the conflict and angst of these years.

What is it about this period of our lives that makes it seem more meaningful and memorable than any other?

My research experience as an evolutionary psychologist leads me to believe that many factors interact to make our teenage memories so vivid. But the main driver is the collision between the hardwiring of our brains that took place across several million of years of evolution and the odd social bubble created by high school, which poses an unprecedented social challenge to our prehistoric minds.

In other words, the world that we evolved to be successful in (a small, stable group of interrelated people of various ages) is very different from the holding pen full of teenagers brimming with hormones that populate our world during the high school years.

‘The reminiscence bump’

Some look back on high school as the best time of their life and pine for those “good old days.” Whether or not this was actually the case, it turns out there may have been some evolutionary advantages to having a rosy view of the past.

But most of us remember high school with an emotional mixture of longing, regret, joy and embarrassment. And strong emotions equal strong memories; even the music from those years gets imprinted on our brain like nothing that comes later.

Memory researchers have, in fact, identified something called “the reminiscence bump,” which shows that our strongest memories come from things that happened to us between the ages of 10 and 30.

What is it about this time of life that makes it stand out from the rest of our years? Part of it is undoubtedly due to changes in the brain’s sensitivity to certain types of information during adolescence. Emotions signal the brain that important events are happening, and the teen years are chock full of important social feedback about one’s skills, attractiveness, status and desirability as a mate. This is precisely the stuff we need to pay attention to in order to successfully play the cards we have been dealt and to become socially and reproductively successful.

A dog-eat-dog world

Memory research may offer hints about why the mental snapshots of our high school years remain so vivid even decades later. But evolutionary psychology can also help explain why so much meaning is attached to these years and why they play such an important role in who we become.

For example, there’s a reason teenagers often strive to be popular.

As far as scientists can tell, our prehistoric forebears lived in relatively small groups. Most people would live out their entire life in this group, and one’s social standing within it was determined during adolescence. How much one was admired as a warrior or hunter, how desirable one was perceived to be as a mate and how much trust and esteem was accorded to one by others – all of this was sorted out in young adulthood. A person deemed to be a loser at 18 was unlikely to rise to a position of prominence at 40. Thus, from an evolutionary perspective, the competition of the teen years had lifelong repercussions.

Of course, today, those who have unsavory high school experiences can move to new places after graduation and start over. However, even though we may be consciously aware of this (to the extent that we are consciously aware of anything when we are teenagers), the psychological buttons that get pushed in the adolescent brain make us become consumed with our social lives during this period.

Popularity can become an obsession, since you’ll be ranked against the people in your own age cohort for the rest of your life. After all, your status as an adult primarily depends upon how you stack up compared with them, not with others.

Also, strong pressures to conform ensure that you do not stray too far from a friend group’s values. Ostracism from the group in prehistoric times was tantamount to a death sentence.

june75
Sometimes, conformity can lead to
cringeworthy moments – bad hairstyles among them.

It all requires forging alliances and demonstrating loyalty to others. The result is a splintering of the social world into competing cliques that grind each other up in the gears of the social hierarchy.

Mom, stop bugging me!

Back home, conflict with parents is usually inevitable. Parents want their children to succeed, but they usually have a more long-term perspective than that of their teen.

So the things that the parent thinks that the child should be concerned with (preparing for a career and developing important life skills) and the things that the child is emotionally driven to actually be concerned with (being popular and having fun) are often at odds. Parents usually realize where the parent-offspring tension comes from. Kids don’t.

Meanwhile, hormones fuel the sort of “showing off” that would have increased one’s attractiveness in early societies. In young men we still reward, to some extent, the things that would have been essential for success in hunting and combat thousands of years ago: the willingness to take risks, fighting ability, speed and the ability to throw with velocity and accuracy. Young women will showcase their youth and fertility. Beauty, unfortunately, continues to be a significant criterion by which they are judged.

Reunion angst

In earlier times, because you had a personal connection with nearly everyone in your group, the ability to remember details about the temperament, predictability and past behavior of peers had a huge payoff. There would have been little use for a mind designed to engage in abstract statistical thinking about large numbers of strangers.

In today’s world, while it is still important to keep tabs on known individuals, we also face new challenges. We interact with strangers on a daily basis, so there’s a need to predict how they’ll behave: will this person try to swindle me or can he or she be trusted? Is this someone important that I should get to know or a nobody that I can safely ignore?

It’s a task many of us find difficult because our brains weren’t really wired to do this, and we fall back on cognitive shortcuts, such as stereotyping, as a way to cope.

Natural selection instead shaped an innate curiosity about specific people – and a memory to store this information. We needed to remember who treated us well and who didn’t, and the more emotional the memory, the less likely we are to forget it. It’s tough to forget when the person you thought of as a close friend publicly snubbed you, or the time that you caught another trusted friend flirting with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

The result is a strong propensity for holding grudges. It protects us from being taken advantage of again but can also make for some uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing moments at high school reunions.

To further complicate things, high school is probably the last time in life when people of all sorts are thrown together for no other reason than they are the same age and live in the same area. Yes, high schools are often segregated by economic background and race. But most high schoolers will still encounter more day-to-day diversity than they will later in life.

After high school, studies have shown that people begin to sort themselves out according to intelligence, political values, occupational interests and a wide range of other social screening devices.

At the same time, however, the people you knew in high school remain your default group for engaging in social comparison.

According to “Social Comparison Theory,” we figure out how good we are and develop a sense of personal worth by comparing ourselves with others; the more similar those others are, the better we can gauge our own strengths and weaknesses. Because your high school classmates will always be the same age as you – and because they started out in the same place – there’s inherently a degree of interest in finding out what happened to them later in life, if for no other reason than to see how your own life stacks up.

Given all this, it’s no wonder that the English Romantic poet Robert Southey once wrote that the “the first 20 years are the longest half of your life, no matter how long you might live.”

June 1, 2016        Frank T. McAndrew Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology, Knox College


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The 3 Most Common Causes of Insecurity and How to Beat Them

15 tools to help you bounce back when you’re feeling down about yourself.

Posted Dec 06, 2015   Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.     The Mindful Self-Express

Do you find yourself feeling filled with self-doubt and short on confidence? Despite your accomplishments, do you feel like a fraud destined to be exposed? Do you feel that you don’t deserve lasting love and that partners will inevitably leave you? Do you stay at home, afraid to venture out and meet new people because you don’t feel you have enough to offer? Do you feel overweight, boring, stupid, guilty, or ugly?

Most of us feel insecure sometimes, but some of us feel insecure most of the time. The kind of childhood you had, past traumas, recent experiences of failure or rejection, loneliness, social anxiety, negative beliefs about yourself, perfectionism, or having a critical parent or partner can all contribute to insecurity. Following are the 3 most common forms—and how to begin to cope with them.

Type 1: Insecurity Based on Recent Failure or Rejection

Recent events in our lives can greatly affect both our mood and the way we feel about ourselves. Research on happiness suggests that up to 40% of our “happiness quotient” is based on recent life events. The biggest negative contributor to happiness is the ending of a relationship, followed by the death of a spouse, job loss, and negative health events. Since unhappiness also influences your self-esteem, failure and rejection can deliver a double whammy to your confidence. In his book Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts, Psychology Today blogger Guy Winch states that rejection inevitably leads us to see both ourselves and other people more negatively, at least for a time. And those of us who have lower self-esteem to begin with are more reactive to failure. It’s as if an experience like losing your job grabs old negative beliefs about your self-worth and activates them. It may help to understand that failure is a nearly ubiquitous experience: Before becoming president, Abraham Lincoln lost his job, was defeated for nomination to Congress, and failed at least twice in Senate bids. Persevering despite setbacks can lead to eventual successes—which raise your self-esteem.

Below are some tools you can use to overcome failure- or rejection-based insecurity:

  1. Give yourself time to heal and adapt to the new normal.
  2. Get out and engage with life, following your interests and curiosity.
  3. Reach out to friends and family for distraction and comfort.
  4. Get feedback from people you trust.
  5. Persevere and keep moving towards your goals.
  6. Be willing to try a different strategy if necessary.

Type 2: Lack of Confidence Because of Social Anxiety

Many of us experience a lack of confidence in social situations like parties, family gatherings, interviews, and dates. The fear of being evaluated by others—and found to be lacking—can lead you to feel anxious and self-conscious. As a result, you may avoid social situations, experience anxiety when you anticipate social events, or feel self-conscious and uncomfortable during them. Past experience can feed your sense of not belonging, not feeling important or interesting, or just not being good enough. Many of my clients describe how being bullied or excluded from a group of friends in middle school or high school continues to negatively affect their confidence as adults. If you grew up with critical parents, or parents who pressured you to be popular and successful, you may also be over-sensitized to how others perceive you. This type of insecurity is generally based on distorted beliefs about your self-worth—and about the extent to which other people are evaluating you. Most of the time, people are more focused on how they are coming across than on judging others. Those who do judge and exclude are often covering up insecurities of their own and so their opinions may be less than accurate; they may value superficial attributes instead of character and integrity.

girl-looking-in-the-mirror

Below are some tools to combat insecurity in social situations:

  1. Talk back to your inner critic. Remind yourself of all the reasons that you can be interesting and fun or would be a good friend or partner.
  2. Prepare in advance. Think of some things you can talk about—current events, movies you’ve seen, hobbies, your job, or your family.
  3. Avoiding social situation just makes things worse. So go to a party or on a date even if you’re nervous. Your anxiety should decrease once you get engaged with others—if not the first or second time, then once you get used to showing up.
  4. Set yourself a limited, realistic goal like talking to two new people or finding out more about one person’s work and hobbies.
  5. Deliberately focus on others to combat intense self-focus. Put on your observer hat and notice what other people seem to be feeling and doing. Do you notice any similarities or skills you can learn from them?

Type 3: Insecurity Driven by Perfectionism

Some of us have very high standards for everything we do. You may want the highest grades, the best job, the perfect figure, the most beautifully decorated apartment or house, neat and polite kids, or the ideal partner. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out exactly the way we want, even if we work extra hard. There is a piece of the outcome that is at least to some degree out of our control. Bosses may be critical, jobs may be scarce, partners may resist commitment, or you may have genes that make it difficult to be skinny. If you are constantly disappointed and blaming yourself for being anything less than perfect, you will start to feel insecure and unworthy. While trying your best and working hard can give you an advantage, other aspects of perfectionism that are unhealthy. Beating up on yourself and constantly worrying about not being good enough can lead to depression and anxiety, eating disorders, or chronic fatigue.

Below are some ways to combat perfectionism:

  1. Try to evaluate yourself based on how much effort you put in, which is controllable, rather than on the outcome, which is dependent on external factors.
  2. Think about how much difference it would actually make if your work were 10 percent better. Would the time and energy spent in checking and re-checking or answering every email really be worth it?
  3. Perfectionism is often based on all- or nothing thinking, so try to find the grey areas. Is there a more compassionate or understanding way to view a situation? Are you taking your circumstances into account when you evaluate yourself? Is there something you learned or achieved even if the end result wasn’t perfect?
  4. Perfectionists often have conditional self-esteem: They like themselves when they are on top and dislike themselves when things don’t go their way. Can you learn to like yourself even when you are not doing well? Focus on inner qualities like your character, sincerity, or good values, rather than just on what grades you get, how much you get paid, or how many people like you.

Resources
Winch, Guy  Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts (Plume, 2014)
Greenberg M.  (2015) Six Mental Health Habits That Will Wear You Down 

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a practicing psychologist in Mill Valley, California, and and former Professor of Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology. She is an expert on positive psychology, mindfulness, managing stress, and improving relationships . She provides workshops, speaking engagements and psychotherapy for individuals and couples. She regularly appears on radio shows, and as an expert in national media. She also does long-distance coaching via the internet. She is  the author of The Stress-Proof Brain (due out in January 2017 from New Harbinger).


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How You See the World Is How the World Sees You

by Vishnus Virtues

Growing up, I believed the world I lived in was a struggle.

And you know, I was right.

It was.

At home, I repeatedly heard things like, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “we can’t afford that.” I began to notice that things that I wanted cost too much and were out of reach.

While working in our small family business growing up, I heard my parents say regularly that business was a struggle and it was hard to make it by every month. And again, it was. Our family tried to save money everywhere it could and put off putting things until the next month. I remember asking for fee waivers for different projects at school or scholarships to go on field trips.

I noticed that our financial and economic life was a struggle.

My Indian parents talked (lectured) a lot but were not very open in communicating and never spoke about their feelings. I came to see the world as one where it was abnormal to talk about feelings and normal to hide how one really felt.

In my own relationships and marriage later, I came to see non-communication as acceptable without realizing how detrimental it was. Talking about feelings felt like a sign of weakness and it was better to be silent than bringing emotions into the mix.

I’ve realized that our perspective in life stems from the things we’ve experienced and the people we’ve interacted with.

The way you view the world reflects the way the world has treated you.

The way the world has treated you gives you the lenses you use to see the circumstances in your life.

  • Believe in lack and poverty: encounter financial insecurity.
  • Believe in adversity and tough times: perceive everything in life as a struggle.
  • Believe that dreams take forever to come true: notice that your life is at a constant standstill.

If you have certain negative beliefs about the way the world works and the way the world treats you — beliefs you’ve developed throughout the course of your life — know that there’s good news: you can do something about it.

You can turn around your disempowering view of life.

To see the world differently, you must change the filter you’re using to view the circumstances around you.

Once you change the filter you use to see the world; you’ll perceive life events as entirely different from what you previously imagined. And ultimately, you’ll live a much richer and more abundant life.

Here’s 4 ways you can change your life’s beliefs to have more empowering life experiences:

1. Awaken to your world view.

Most of your life you’ve taken what people have told you about your life and merged it with your personal experiences. This has shaped your world view.

What you must do now is call out this world view and realize it’s just one perspective.

If you believe that finding a job is difficult or that doing your life’s work is impossible, become aware of this perspective.

Take note of the beliefs you hold in each area of your life.

What is your belief about money?

What is your belief about work?

What is your view about problems and struggles you face?

world-projection perspective

As a simple exercise, write down each area of your life you want to explore: Money, Work, Dreams, Career, Job Security, Relationships, etc.

Under each category, write down what you believe about that area. What are your views about each area?

For example, work. Do you believe that the harder you work, the more you earn?

Do you believe that to earn more, you need more education?

Do you believe that work has to be in an office and 9-5?

Do you believe in staying in one job for life?

Notice these are simply beliefs that represent one perspective. These beliefs are not true for everyone – just true for you.

2. Flip the script.

If you’ve written your take on each area of your life, you’re in a place to change your life’s perspective.

Now, review each area and acknowledge that your views and beliefs about the world may not be the ultimate truth.

Your beliefs may be true for you based on your circumstances, but they’re not the ultimate “truth. ”

These beliefs may be true for you based on what you heard when you were growing up and on the life experiences you’ve had, but room exists for a different perspective.

If you have a negative or disempowering world view, acknowledge this and be open to the existence of an opposing world view.

If you believe money is tight and difficult to come by, acknowledge that the opposite world view is that money is easy to come by and the world is filled with abundance.

If you believe your job is a means of earning a living and that’s it, acknowledge that your work is your life’s greatest contribution. Acknowledge that some people are living their purpose while doing their life’s work every day.

Whatever negative or disempowering views you have of the world, look at the opposite and contrary view of what you currently believe.

3. See the world through new lenses.

Once you have a better understanding of what you believe and how you see the world, and after you’ve acknowledged the flip side of the coin, start seeing the world through a new set of lenses.

When something happens to you or around you, don’t neatly store that new incident in the same old belief system file.

Be willing to challenge the way you interpret the events in your life.

If you encounter a problem, look for the lesson in it.

If you face a setback at work, determine how it helps you pursue your greater purpose.

If a salesman tricks you, realize how much savvier you’ve become as a result.

If someone breaks your heart, see how it’s really setting you up for your life’s best relationship.

When dealing with life’s events, know that you have two choices and that you have the power to determine how you see each event.

You can view the circumstance or problem through your old lenses and your former belief system, or you can look at it under a more empowering light.

You determine whether it’s positive or negative.

You decide whether it’s helpful or harmful.

You choose whether the life event is a setback or a lesson.

I’m encouraging you to look at your life events using your new perspective – via the shades of abundance, happiness, positivity and growth.

Look at situations and people in the best light.

4. Celebrate, call out and expect to see the world you desire.

Here’s the best part about seeing the world through a different set of lenses.

Your life will literally start to change.

If you perceive people as helpful and events (even bad ones) as leaning in your favor, you’ll encounter a world that’s pulling for you and that
wants you to succeed.

To keep the good things coming your way, acknowledge and celebrate the new developments in your life.

Instead of seeing a bad boss as a terrible manager, realize how much better you’re becoming at your work through the mentoring you’re receiving. Also, acknowledge how much better you’re getting at dealing with abusive bosses.

Instead of seeing a layoff as a life-crushing event, call it out as a positive, life-changing event. You would never have left the job you hated, but the fact that you were let go allows you to reprioritize your life and do work that really matters.

Continue to see circumstances with positive new lenses.

Acknowledge the circumstances of your life and celebrate them. Try to appreciate everything that happens to you and look for the silver linings even in the worst life events.

Stay optimistic; expect things to turn out in your favor.

Expect to encounter people who help you, work that promotes you, relationships that fulfill you and gifts from nowhere that truly surprise you.

Maintain a positive vibe and be open to the possibility that the world will create positive circumstances in your life.

And come to see how every circumstance furthers your purpose, improves your life and gets you closer to your dreams.

Once you choose to see the world in a more uplifting light, you’ll notice positive developments, favorable events and more abundance.

Your perspective and belief system 

shape your world view.

Be willing to flip your perspective and alter your belief system and watch your life transform.

Vishnus Virtues, Author, Blogger and Life Coach
Vishnu writes a popular relationship and personal development coaching blog. He coaches people who are going through divorces start over, get unstuck and find their purpose in life.