What Do You See in People?

Posted on April 11, 2017

Photo: flickr

We interact with numerous people on a daily basis, but our exchanges with them are brief, cursory at best. In fact, these exchanges are known to have a “bumper-car quality” to them, because we literally bump into each other and bounce off immediately, regardless of whether we are exchanging pieces of information, or merely smiling at each other. Often, we are so preoccupied with moving on and busying ourselves with the next thing on our to-do lists that we rarely consider and think about what the people we interact with are like. What do we notice in them? Do we see the good, or the bad?

Our brains have what scientists term a “negativity bias”; that is, we tend to see the bad qualities in other people that irk or irritate us, instead of the good ones. However, when we surround ourselves with the less pleasant or merely neutral qualities in others, and perhaps only a smattering of good, positive qualities, it is practically instinctive for us to feel less safe and supported. It is also likely that we will be less big-hearted and less willing to follow our aspirations. Furthermore, when those you interact with sense that you do not really see the good in them, they will consequently put in less time and effort to see what is good in you.

All this means that just by seeing the good in others, we can effectively make ourselves feel happier and more confident. Hence, we will also be more loving towards everyone, and be more productive in our daily lives.

Here are some tips to help you see the good in others:

- Pause: take a few seconds to wonder about the good qualities in someone else. Really open your eyes and take off the fog-covered lenses of your negativity bias; see people for who they really are.

- See the good intentions in people’s actions: Sometimes, although we may feel that people’s actions are unnecessary or do not help the situation, it would be good for us to think about the underlying aims behind their actions. Often, the aims themselves are positive, though the way that people try to fulfill these aims may not be the most ideal. For instance, a child who is throwing around his or her food may just want to have fun, and does not necessarily wish to cause a disturbance. It would be good to try to see the positive intentions in others’ actions, and specifically bear in mind that in the heart of every person is the wish to be happy.

- Notice others’ abilities and qualities: Giving recognition to those you feel deserve it is important; it can boost their self-esteem, and have long-lasting impacts on their lives.

- See the good character traits in others: Everyone around you has positive character traits and virtues, such as kindness, patience or compassion. Spend a few moments observing the good qualities in others, even those whom you may not necessarily interact well with.

What is most important is for us to see in ourselves the good qualities that we see in others; this makes sense, as for us to be able to recognise these qualities, we would have to know what they mean and how they are expressed. Not only others, but you also have positive qualities, abilities and virtues. You, too, are a good person.

Category(s):Mental Health in Asia, Self-Esteem

Source material from Psychology Today