Trained to See What’s Wrong
We are trained to see what’s wrong with someone rather than what’s right with them. In fact, our perception of others is a continuous loop of fabricated misperceptions as we size up people telling ourselves a story about them in our heads. Most of the time, the stories are untrue. What else could they be?
We make our judgments based on a few pieces of external information about someone and put our spin on it. There’s no truth in spin.
We do this with people we know and those we don’t. There don’t appear to be any boundaries. Everyone is a potential target. So, instead of seeing the beauty in others, we look for flaws. Instead of seeing what’s great about others, we point out what we think is bad. So often we look at people through our eyes of criticism rather through our eyes of compassion. But, with awareness of this pattern, a shift in focus and a little help from the brain, there is a wonderful opportunity here to open our eyes to the truth about each person we see. And the greatest part of all is we can do this for us, too.
When we look at others, what do we see? Most of us see two things. First, we see the outside form. We size up someone based on their clothes, hair, body size, teeth and even shoes. We check out their accent, language skills and demeanor. Of course, sizing up others is useful for some situations and we need to do this to stay safe. But, we are in the habit of judging others well beyond the realm of threat assessment. Each time we do this, we miss the true depth, meaning and value of that person. Not only is this move completely out of alignment with our very survival, it further widens the distance between us and others, reinforcing the unnecessary separation and loneliness many of us experience.
Second, when we look at others, we see in them what we see in ourselves. In other words, and this has been said many times, other people are our mirrors. That may be hard to believe but it’s spot-on. We look for the bad and the ugly in others because we believe there is bad and ugly in us .¨ and we are not happy about it. Unaware, and in an effort to relieve ourselves of the pain and suffering this brings us, we lash out at others. It’s as if we are tapping shoulders to pass on our cooties. But, just as the cooties aren’t real, neither are the bad and ugly judgments. And you can’t give away what isn’t real. The only viable solution is to resolve the mistaken beliefs within you.
Aligning with Truth and Reality
How do you resolve the beliefs that there is bad and ugly in you? You must stop looking for evidence that supports those beliefs. You probably don’t realize you do this, but you do. We all do. For example, we often make up in our minds how something is supposed to go and when it doesn’t match our expectations, we beat ourselves (or someone) up. Sometimes this beating is physical, but most of the time the beating is mental and emotional.
“I know it isn’t going to work, nothing ever works for me” and similar rhetoric automatically fills our head. It’s all doom and gloom. We thought it was going to go the way we pictured it in our minds and it didn’t. We use such scenarios to verify that we are bad, stupid, not smart enough, a victim of life and so on. None of these things are true, however. They are just beliefs. Let’s look at the background of how our beliefs about us got this way in the first place. Then we will see how the brain helps us correct this error in programming.
It is essential to understand that the mental program for life that was downloaded into our young, developing minds gave us a central message to live by and it goes something like this, “I’m afraid you’re just not good enough”. This is a lie. We are good enough. The problem is we believed this lie as we grew up and now we mistakenly live by it every day, desperately working to overcome it. How do you overcome something that isn’t true to begin with? You don’t. This is a flaw in the programming that needs corrected within each one of us. To do this, we need to lean on a small, but important, part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS).
The mind can’t process the billions of stimuli we are exposed to each day so the RAS acts as a filter, or gatekeeper, to let in what’s most important. And what we think is most important is mainly decided by our beliefs. This is fantastic news since it means we have the power to reprogram our minds and point them to reality as we change our views and shift our focus.
To change our beliefs, we need to be aware of the ones that work against us and don’t make us feel good about ourselves. Then we must stop looking for evidence to support these. That means we also have to stop the old, reactive patterns of mental and emotional beatings. We have to make a choice to think and do something different than what we have done for years. When we stop looking for evidence of bad and ugly those misaligned beliefs begin to dissolve. When we no longer see those in us, we will no longer see them in others.
More Help and 5 Ways to See the Good in Everyone
The reticular activating system is awesome. But, the brain has another cool way to help us resolve the crap we tell ourselves. It’s something called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity means the brain can change. Nothing is set in stone. New thoughts and ideas can be molded and old ones can dissolve. In quantum science, the saying goes, “neurons that fire together, wire together”. What does this mean for us and how we can see the good in us and others?
When we become aware of the beliefs that make us feel bad about ourselves and we stop repeating the same old derogatory, demeaning statements, the old connections to those old patterns begin to dissolve. And when we replace this with beliefs that work in our favor, those that are aligned with truth and reality, new patterns emerge. When the new patterns emerge, your RAS now filters the stimuli to support your new beliefs. Think it seems too simple to be true? Think again. The brain, like the rest of the body, is set up to help us .¨ when we let it. Dr. Joe Dispenza has done a fabulous job of explaining this in detail in his book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. Make certain to put this book on your “must read” list.
So, how do we see the good in others? Let’s start with the basics. First, we must realize there is so much more that connects us than separates us. And we are definitely more alike than different. Think about it. Each one of us has suffered in life in some way. We have all loved someone who has died. We have all been ridiculed at some point in our lives. We have all felt horrible from some illness. But, even more than that, we have all felt like a failure, we have all felt unwanted and unworthy and we have all felt unloved at some, or many, points in our life. It’s time to connect with truth and reality. It’s time to let go of the fabricated misperceptions.
How can we see the good in others on a more regular basis? The following is a short list of ideas to get you started. Expand these or come up with your own.
1. Practice Seeing Past the Exterior. When you look at someone, practice ignoring their clothes, hair and body type. It’s not easy, but you can do it. This will help you connect with the person in a deeper level. It would be interesting to see who we would have as friends if we could not see what they look like.
2. Practice Compassion.
Living with beliefs that don’t match reality creates a lot of unnecessary suffering for us. And we are sick and tired because of it all. Each person you meet is suffering from the same lie that was taught to them. Have compassion for them since you know firsthand the hell that comes from such beliefs.
3. Take the Gloves Off.
Get out of attack mode. This takes practice since most of us are unaware that we’re in attack mode and have the gloves on in the first place. We must stop scanning life, looking for what is wrong with it.
Instead, we must practice seeing the good.
4. Practice Acceptance. Practice acceptance of others. Just because someone doesn’t dress like you, talk like you, act like you or love like you, doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them. You do not set the standard for every human on the planet. As if.
5. Practice Love. The more we love, the more we love. That is not a typo. Get in the habit of loving more. Express it more, think it more and act more loving.
This helps connect you to what is real and true.
Take the time to practice seeing the good in others. Every time you see someone, you have an opportunity to practice. Stick with it even if it doesn’t go so great some days. Just stay focused on what is good about you, your life and others. This will be most challenging when things don’t go the way you want them to go. If you can see the good here, you can see it anywhere.
Remember, there’s the person you think you are and then there’s the person you really are deep down. Changing your beliefs to those that work in your favor will align you reality. You won’t be forced to live the lies you were told. You will have a clearer, more authentic view of you, others and the world. You will see the depth that lies beyond the exterior coating, enjoy life more often and feel more connected to others. And when you do this for you, you do it for all. What could be more worthy of your time and energy?