The most important thing you need to know about the subconscious mind is that it is always “on”. That is, it is active day and night, regardless of what you are doing. The subconscious mind controls your body. You cannot hear this silent inner process with your conscious effort. You need to start taking care of your subconscious mind. It is vital to maintain your mind in a state of expectation of only good events and make the usual mode of your thinking based solely on loyalty, justice and love.
Faith and belief are the foundation of the subconscious. Do not forget that “you will be rewarded according to your faith”.
A Protestant minister who suffered from lung cancer wrote about his methods of transferring thoughts of perfect health into his subconscious mind: “Two or three times a day, I put my body and soul in a relaxed state, repeating these words:
“My feet are completely relaxed, my legs are relaxed. Right now, my stomach muscles are relaxing. My heart is beating quietly, my breathing is calm and relaxed. My head is completely relaxed, my whole body is completely relaxed and calm.”
After about five minutes, when I got into a drowsy, sleepy state, I repeated: “The perfection of the God’s plan finds its expression in me. My subconscious mind is filled with thoughts of that I have perfect health. My image is spotless before God.” This priest managed to heal himself.
Here are some brief recommendations to help you use your subconscious power for your best:
1. Your subconscious mind not only controls all the processes of the body but also knows the answers to the various questions and can solve many problems.
2. Before going to bed, refer to your subconscious mind with a specific request and soon you will see its miraculous power in action.
3. Anything that is captured in your subconscious mind will directly affect you in the form of emotions, circumstances and events. Therefore, you need to watch closely what thoughts and ideas govern your mind.
4. All experiences arise from unfulfilled desires. If you are focused on various issues and problems, thus will be the reaction of your subconscious mind.
5. When you have a specific goal or dream, consciously repeat this statement: “I believe that the power of the subconscious, which gave me this desire, will embody it in me now.”
6. Stress, anxiety and fear can disrupt the natural rhythm of breathing, heart rate and work of any other part of the body. Cultivate in your subconscious mind thoughts of health, peace and harmony, and all the functions of the body will return to normal.
7. Fill your subconscious with expectations of the best experiences and emotions, and your thoughts will become a reality.
8. Imagine a positive outcome of your problems, fully feel the enthusiasm from what has happened. All your fantasies and feelings are clearly accepted by your subconscious and then implemented in life.
However much we would like to avoid them, rejections are a regular part of life. We get ignored by neighbors, out posts don’t get ‘liked’ on Facebook, our sexual advances get rebuffed by our partners, our colleagues go to lunches without us, we get blindsided by divorce, fired unexpectedly from our jobs, and ostracized by our families or communities. Rejection come in all shapes and sizes but the one thing they all have in common is how much they hurt.
Why do rejections hurt so much? The answer is quite surprising.
When scientists did fMRI studies (functional brain scans) they discovered that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. This is also why almost every culture around the world uses the term hurt feelings to characterize how we react to rejection—our feelings literally hurt.
There is good reason for rejection to mimic physical pain in our brain, or at least, there was good reason. Back in our hunter gatherer days, being ostracized from our tribe was akin to a death sentence, as we were unlikely to survive alone. We therefore developed an early warning system to let us know when we were at risk for getting ousted. People who experienced rejection as more painful were more likely to correct their behavior, stay in their tribe, and live to pass along their genes.
Now that we know what happens in our brains when we get rejected, let’s look at what happens in our minds.
1. Rejection causes surges of anger and aggression that we take out on those around us.
Getting dumped by someone we’re dating would make anyone angry. But the anger rejection causes is not just a momentary reaction. Numerous studies have demonstrated that even mild rejections make people subsequently redirect their anger and aggression toward ‘innocent’ bystanders such as our friends and family members. Because this can occur hours later, we might not be aware that having our poetry submission turned down that morning contributed to our barking at our partner when we got home that night.
The more significant the rejection, the more anger and aggression it is likely to generate. Indeed, in 2001, the Surgeon General of the U.S. issued a report stating that rejection was a greater risk for adolescent violence than drugs, poverty, or gang membership. Rejection is also the trigger for many incidents of violence against women. Of course, most people are not violent. But being irritable, having an edge to our tone, and losing our cool when we should not are all examples of ways in which we might be reacting to small rejections we’ve suffered in the recent past.
Seeking emotional support from someone who cares about us and hearing a kind word can help soothe our anger, especially if we do so immediately following the rejection.
2. Rejection damages our ‘need to belong’.
Another legacy of our tribal days is that we have a basic need to feel as though we have a place within our group—that we belong to a tribe. This need becomes destabilized when we get rejected, which adds to our discomfort and emotional pain.
One way to address this often unconscious need is to reconnect with our core group. Making plans to visit with or talk with a family member or someone from our ‘inner circle’ can help alleviate this internal tension and help us feel more connected and less alone in the immediate aftermath of a hurtful rejection.
3. Rejections make us join ‘fight club’ and beat ourselves up.
One of the most common yet unfortunate things we do after a rejection, especially a romantic one, is to list all our faults and inadequacies and kick our self-esteem when it’s already down. The reality is that most romantic rejections are a reflection of insufficient fit or match. The incompatibility might be in lifestyle, goals, interests, or appearance—one person prefers blonds and we’re a brunette, or another likes guys with scruff and we tend to be clean shaven—but that’s all it is, an insufficient fit.
Seeking fault in ourselves only deepens the emotional pain we feel and makes it harder for us to recover. Therefore, to avoid harming your already battered self-esteem, go with the interpretation that is most likely and least damaging—that you weren’t the right match for the person. If they give you the ‘It’s not you, it’s me” speech—believe them!
4. Rejection temporarily damages our ability to think clearly.
Just as it’s difficult to focus and concentrate when we have a terrible tooth ache, the emotional pain we feel after a rejection makes it difficult for us to think clearly. Studies found that merely thinking about being rejected or being alone was enough for people to score substantially lower on IQ tests, tests of decision making and tests of short term memory.
Therefore, when we’re in the immediate aftermath of a rejection, we should take time to address our emotional pain before we jump back into work or studying—when it’s possible to do so. One way to ease emotional pain is to reaffirm our self-worth by reminding ourselves of what we have to offer in the relevant sphere—as romantic partners, employees, or friends.
For example, if we were rejected by a dating partner, we should make a list of the valuable and meaningful qualities we believe we possess such as, loyalty, caring, supportiveness, emotional availability, having good listening skills, and others. We should then write a couple of paragraphs about why the quality is important in relationships and how we would manifest it in future situations.
Using such self-affirmation exercises has been shown to reduce emotional pain, boost self-esteem, and restore cognitive functioning after a rejection. Make sure to write things out, as writing helps us ‘absorb’ the message far more effectively than just thinking it through.
5. Rejection causes us to over generalize.
When we get rejected we tend to focus so much attention on our immediate hurt and what led to it that we are likely to lose perspective and overgeneralize the incident. Instead of lamenting a specific breakup we tell ourselves, I’ll always be alone!” Instead of feeling bad about getting rejected by a potential employer we say things like, “I’ll never find another job!”
We all tend to overgeneralize when we get rejected and we typically convince ourselves that our exaggerated fears and despair are warranted. However the truth is one breakup has nothing to do with another. The fact that you didn’t click with one person does not mean you won’t click with the next one, as everyone is different. The same goes for employers, friends, and any other rejection scenario.
In order to avoid deepening your emotional pain and damaging to your self-esteem even further, watch your language. Make sure to state things accurately and to not overgeneralize. Describe specific incidents and avoid phrasing things as themes and patterns. For example, don’t call your friends and say, “I got dumped again. Why do these things keep happening to me?” Instead, say, “He/she broke it off.” Or “It didn’t work out.”
Recognizing the five unconscious ways we react to rejection and taking steps to address them will minimize the emotional pain and anger you feel, help your self-esteem recover, and restore your clarity of thinking. Remember that psychological injuries are similar to physical ones—we can and should take steps to treat them. Doing so will make them heal faster and prevent them from becoming ‘infected’ and causing further damage down the road.
Source: Pick The Brain
Sometimes ideas that originate in science seep out into the broader culture and take on a life of their own. It’s still common to hear people referred to as “anal,” a Freudian idea that no longer has much currency in contemporary psychology. Ideas like black holes and quantum leaps play a metaphorical role that’s only loosely tethered to their original scientific meanings.
What about the idea that some people are more right-brained and others more left-brained? Or that there’s a distinctive analytic and verbal style of thinking associated with the left hemisphere of the brain, and a more holistic, creative style associated with the right? Are these scientific facts or cultural fictions?
An infographic reproduced just last month at Lifehack.org, for example, promises to explain “why you act the way you do” by revealing “which side of your brain you tend to use more.” An article at Oprah.com explains “how to tap into right-brain thinking.” And decades of research using behavioral and neuro-scientific techniques do reveal fascinating and systematic differences across brain regions.
On the other hand, some recent headlines challenge the left brain / right brain dichotomy. One highly publicized paper, summarized at The Guardian, failed to find evidence that individuals tend to have stronger left- or right-sided brain networks. A new book by Stephen M. Kosslyn and G. Wayne Miller argues that the left / right brain divide is largely bogus, and should instead be replaced by a top brain / bottom brain distinction.
So while there’s something deeply compelling about the clear-cut, right-brain versus left-brain classification (or is that just my left hemisphere speaking?), we have good reasons for skepticism. The real story, as you might expect, is a bit more complicated — but arguably more interesting — than the infographics and popular headlines seem to suggest.
To get a clearer picture of what we do and don’t know about hemispheric brain differences in humans, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to interview a leading cognitive neuroscientist, Kara D. Federmeier, whose research focuses on language, memory and hemispheric asymmetries throughout the lifespan. Dr. Federmeier is a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she’s also affiliated with the Neurosciences Program and The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. (And, full disclosure, she was also one of my first scientific mentors and co-authors.)
One idea that’s often heard in popular discussions of psychology is that the left brain is the seat of language and more “logical,” while the right brain is more creative. Is there any truth to this idea?
One problem with answering this question is that we would first have to agree on what “logical” and “creative” even mean. So let’s consider a (relatively) more well-defined case: math skills, which are often taken to be part of what the “logical” left hemisphere would be good at.
There are different kinds of math skills, ranging from being able to estimate which of two sets of things has a greater number of items, to counting, to various types of calculations. Research shows that, overall, the abilities that make up math skills arise from processing that takes place in BOTH hemispheres (especially the brain area in each hemisphere that is known as the intraparietal sulcus) and that damage to either hemisphere can cause difficulties with math. A left hemisphere advantage for math is mostly seen for tasks like counting and reciting multiplication tables, which rely heavily on memorized verbal information (thus, not exactly what we think of as “logical”!). And there are right hemisphere advantages on some math-related tasks as well, especially estimating the quantity of a set of objects. This kind of pattern, in which both hemispheres of the brain make critical contributions, holds for most types of cognitive skills. It takes two hemispheres to be logical – or to be creative.
The claim that the left hemisphere is the seat of language, however, is a little different. That idea comes from observations that damage to the left hemisphere (for example, due to a stroke) is often associated with difficulties producing language, a problem known as aphasia. Similar damage to the right hemisphere is much less likely to cause aphasia. In fact, for most people, the left hemisphere does play a much more important role in the ability to speak than the right hemisphere does.
However, this does not mean that the right hemisphere is “nonverbal.” My laboratory studies the hemispheres’ ability to comprehend (rather than produce) language, and we, like others, have shown that both hemispheres can figure out the meaning of words and sentences – and that they have differing strengths and weaknesses when it comes to comprehending. So, like other complex skills, the ability to understand what we read or what someone is saying to us requires both hemispheres, working together and separately.
Early studies of hemispheric asymmetries often relied on “split-brain” patients who had the corpus callosum — the bundle of neural fibers that connects the two hemispheres — severed as a treatment for severe epilepsy. In such studies, information could be provided to a single hemisphere at a time by presenting people with input to one side of the visual field, since the right visual field is processed by the left hemisphere, and vice versa.
Your lab uses contemporary neuro-scientific techniques, such as measures of brain wave activity (EEG and ERP) to investigate hemispheric asymmetries, and typically does so in individuals with intact brains. How do you do so, and do your findings corroborate or challenge earlier inferences made from the behavior of split-brain patients?
We actually use the same basic technique, known as “visual half field presentation.”
As an aside, I should point out that many times people misunderstand and think that each EYE is connected to a different hemisphere. That’s not true. (It would make our studies so much easier if it were, since we could just ask people to close one eye!) Instead, half of the information coming into each eye goes to each of the hemispheres, with the result, as you point out, that if you are looking forward, things you see to the right of where you are looking are being picked up initially by your left hemisphere and things to the left by your right hemisphere.
To look at hemispheric differences, we ask our participants, who are usually either college students or retired adults, to look at the center of the screen. We then display words (or pictures, or other types of stimuli) fairly rapidly – so people can’t move their eyes fast enough to fixate them directly – to the left or the right side of a computer screen. By comparing how people respond (for example, whether they can accurately remember a word) when it was processed first by the left hemisphere versus by the right hemisphere, we can test ideas about what each hemisphere is capable of and whether one hemisphere has better, or different, abilities compared to the other.
Often, we also measure brain electrical activity in these experiments because that provides rich information about how processing is unfolding over time: we can track what happens as the eyes send information to visual processing areas in the brain, as people pay attention to a word, access its meaning from memory, and add this new information into their unfolding understanding of a sentence, and as people, in some cases, decide how to respond and then prepare to press a button to register their response. With electrophysiological measures we can thus find out not only THAT the two hemispheres do something different but WHEN and HOW.
In general, the kinds of hemispheric differences that were uncovered in split-brain patients have been replicated (and then extended) using these techniques in people with intact brains. This sometimes surprises people, including my fellow cognitive neuroscientists. The idea that the two hemispheres perceive things differently, attach different significance to things, obtain different meanings from stimuli, and, sometimes, make different decisions about what to do seems like it should be an exotic side effect of the split-brain condition. When the hemispheres are connected, don’t they just share all the information and operate in a unified fashion?
The answer is, no, they don’t.
They don’t, in part, because they can’t. Processing within each hemisphere relies on a rich, dense network of connections. The corpus callosum that connects the hemispheres is big for a fiber tract, but it is tiny compared to the network of connections within each hemisphere. Physically, then, it doesn’t seem feasible for the hemispheres to fully share information or to operate in a fully unified fashion. Moreover, in a lot of cases, keeping things separate is (literally!) the smarter way for the hemispheres to function. Dividing up tasks and allowing the hemispheres to work semi-independently and take different approaches to the same problem seems to be a good strategy for the brain … just as it often is in a partnerships between people.
It makes sense to have specialized brain regions, just as it makes sense to have divisions of labor in other areas of life. But why have specialized hemispheres? In other words, do you think there’s something general that can be said about the sorts of processing that occur in the left hemisphere versus the right hemisphere, or is each simply a constellation of somewhat distinct, specialized regions?
Specifically how and why the hemispheres differ remains a mystery. They are actually remarkably similar physically, and this is one reason I think that studying hemispheric differences is critical for the field.
Over the past decade or so, a lot of effort has been put into “mapping” the human brain – that is, linking areas that differ anatomically (have different inputs, outputs, types or arrangements of neurons, and/or neuropharmacology) to different functions. From this, we hope we can learn something about how and why these anatomical differences matter. However, in doing this, the field has also uncovered a lot of hemispheric asymmetries – cases in which, for example, a left hemisphere brain area becomes active and its right hemisphere homologue (with the SAME basic inputs, outputs, etc.) is much less active (or vice versa). This should really surprise us: here are two brain areas that are essentially the same on all the dimensions the field is used to thinking about, yet they behave strikingly differently. There must be physical differences between them, of course – but then, this means that those “subtle” differences are much more critical for function than the field has appreciated.
My own view is that studies of hemispheric differences will help to move the field away from thinking in terms of mapping functions onto localized brain areas. I believe that cognitive functions arise from dynamically configured neural networks. On this view, the role played by any given brain area is different depending on the state of the network of which it is currently a part, and how activity unfolds over time often matters more than where it is in the brain.
Why do the hemispheres differ? I think it is because even small differences in something like the strength with which areas are connected can lead to very different dynamic patterns of activation over time – and thus different functions. For language comprehension in particular, my work has shown that left hemisphere processing is more influenced by what are sometimes called “top-down” connections, which means that the left hemisphere is more likely to predict what word might be coming up next and to have its processing affected by that prediction. The right hemisphere, instead, shows more “feedforward” processing: it is less influenced by predictions (which can make its processing less efficient) but then more able to later remember details about the words it encountered. Because of what is likely a difference (possibly small) in the efficacy of particular connections within each hemisphere, the same brain areas in the two interact differently, and this leads to measurable and important asymmetries in how words are perceived, linked to meaning, remembered, and responded to.
This is unlikely to be the only difference between the hemispheres, of course. But I think the answer to your question is that what we see across the pattern of asymmetries is neither a random collection of unrelated differences nor divisions based on one or even a small set of functional principles (e.g., the left hemisphere is “local” and the right hemisphere is “global” … another popular one). Rather, some of the underlying biology is skewed, and this has far reaching consequences for the kinds of patterns that can be set up over time in the two hemispheres, leading to sets of functional differences that we can hopefully eventually link systematically to these underlying biological causes, and thereby deepen our understanding of how the brain works.
What’s surprised you most about the hemispheric asymmetries you’ve found (or failed to find!) in your own research?
One of my favorite findings came from an experiment in which we used adjectives to change the meaning of the same noun. For example, the word “book” in “green book” refers to something concrete – that is, something for which it is easy to create a mental image. However, given “interesting book” people now usually think about the content of the book rather than its physical form, so the same word has become more “abstract” in meaning.
A lot of research shows that concrete and abstract words are processed differently in the brain. We wanted to see if those differences could be found for exactly the same word depending on what it was referring to, and whether the two hemispheres were similarly affected by concreteness. We found in this experiment, as we had previously in many others, that the left hemisphere is very sensitive to the predictability of word combinations. Fewer nouns can go with “green” than with “interesting,” and brain activity elicited in response to “book” reflected this when the words were presented initially to the left hemisphere.
However, to our surprise, it was the right hemisphere that elicited imagery-related brain activity to “green book” compared to “interesting book.” Thus, although the left hemisphere is clearly important for language processing, the right hemisphere may play a special role in creating the rich sensory experience that often accompanies language comprehension … and that makes reading such a pleasure.
Another popular idea is that some people are more “left brained” and others more “right brained.” Is there any evidence for individual differences in the extent to which people rely on one hemisphere versus another? More generally, what kinds of individual differences do you see in hemispheric specialization?
There are certainly individual differences in hemispheric specialization across people, but they are very difficult to reliably determine. Where this matters most is in medical contexts: when people are going to have brain surgery (e.g., for epilepsy or tumor resection), physicians would like to make sure that in removing certain brain tissue they are not going to disrupt critical functions like language.
As I mentioned already, most of the time the left hemisphere is more important for speaking, for example, but that isn’t true in absolutely everyone. In order to determine if a person’s left or right hemisphere is more important for their language production, physicians use things like the WADA test, in which a barbiturate is injected into one hemisphere to temporarily shut it down, allowing the physician to see what each hemisphere can do on its own. This is obviously a very invasive test (and not perfect at that). If it were possible to instead figure out whether someone relied more on their left or right hemisphere by having them look at a spinning figure or answer a few questions, that would obviously be preferable … but it doesn’t work.
There are, of course, differences in how people learn and think, what they like, and what they are like (although, since everyone’s brain is different, I think the similarities are actually more surprising than the differences). Some of these differences may arise because of individual differences in how the hemispheres are organized or which hemisphere tends to be used in particular circumstances. Given that the hemispheres do operate somewhat independently, the question of how their independent processing is eventually combined and/or which hemisphere gets to “take control” of processing for a particular task is one that we are only beginning to understand. (In some cases, split-brain patients’ hands – one controlled by each hemisphere – literally fought for control of a particular task; it is intriguing to imagine that kind of struggle routinely taking place internally for everyone else!)
However, it seems safe to say that for the most part we all use both sides of our brains almost all the time. We do know a few factors that influence how functions are lateralized and how much they are lateralized. For example, having a “reversed” laterality (with, for example, control of speech in the right rather than the left hemisphere) is more likely for left-handed than right-handed people (although it is important not to overgeneralize from this: the vast majority of left-handed people have the typical lateralization pattern). Moreover, differences have been seen among right-handed people depending on whether or not they have left-handed biological relatives; this is something my lab is beginning to explore. Again, small biological shifts, caused in part by (complex) genetic differences, can lead to different functional patterns, including whether a function tends to be very lateralized or accomplished by both hemispheres.
I will end with one last fact about hemispheric differences that many people may not be aware of, and that is that lateralization of function changes with normal aging. The kinds of lateralized patterns of brain activity I mentioned earlier when talking about brain mapping studies are more common in young adults. Across many types of tasks and many brain areas, these lateralized patterns tend to switch to bilateral patterns in healthy older adults.
Is this because older adults have better learned how to be both logical AND creative? Maybe :-). It is actually difficult to know when this kind of a shift is helpful – for example, bringing extra processing resources to bear on a task to compensate for age-related declines in function – versus when it might be a sign that the brain is simply less good at maintaining a healthy division of labor. Understanding hemispheric specialization is thus also important for discovering ways to help us all maintain better cognitive functioning with age. This is something my laboratory actively investigates, aided by support from the National Institute of Aging as well as the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
Finally, can you recommend any accessible resources for readers who want to learn more about hemispheric asymmetries?
My own interest in hemispheric differences was sparked, in part, by books like Left Brain, Right Brain by Sally Springer and Georg Deutsch and Hemispheric Asymmetry: What’s Right and What’s Left by Joseph Hellige. These are accessible books written by scientists and well-grounded in the research – although both books are now more than a decade old, so don’t reflect current developments in the field. Unfortunately, I don’t know of more recent books that are comparably reliable and accessible.
Some readers may be interested to read journal articles on the topic. For example, I drew some of my information about math and the hemispheres from the article, “Arithmetic and the brain” by Stanislas Dehaene, Nicolas Molko, Laurent Cohen and Anna J Wilson in the journal Current Opinion in Neurobiology (2004; Volume 14, pages 218-224). For those interested in language, I (with coauthors Edward Wlotko and Aaron Meyer) have written a fairly accessible review called “What’s “right” in language comprehension: ERPs reveal right hemisphere language capabilities” published in Language and Linguistics Compass (2008;
Volume 2, pages 1-17).
Over the course of our lives, we run across all types of people—and the fact that we’re prone to classifying them as “types” shows just how much we tend to believe that people are certain ways by nature. The truth is, many aspects of our personalities and emotional make-ups are brought on over time by the psychological habits we have adopted: the ways in which we interpret events, the thoughts that run through our heads like clockwork, and the explanations we give ourselves for how the world works. Few people would endorse wanting to become bitter and negative human beings, and yet it’s not an uncommon sight to see, especially for people who have experienced more than their share of tough times. Want to have a more hopeful and optimistic outlook on life? See if you can diminish the following mental habits, and go from there.
1) Not forgiving others. Many people equate forgiveness with forgetting that something happened altogether or saying that it was okay that it did. That’s not what forgiveness is about. And many people claim that they have forgiven someone for something, and yet in reality, they have not. What real forgiveness means is allowing yourself to be free from the resentment of having been wronged, to accept that something has occurred and to believe that you deserve to move on from it. It’s to declare your independence from perseverating on how to get revenge on another person, to stop dwelling on how to make them “make up for it” and continuing to let that corrode your emotional well-being. It is letting go in its healthiest, truest sense. Forgiveness doesn’t minimize the wrongness of someone’s actions. It just allows you to no longer be hurt by them. Forgiveness is associated with reduced depression, stress, and hostility, and improved self-esteem and even physical health. When you look at its benefits, you’ll see it’s about being kind to yourself, not doing a favor for someone else.
2) Not forgiving yourself. Even more kind is allowing yourself to move on from your own mistakes. Regret, embarrassment, shame, and guilt from a single mistake can haunt you for years. And the ensuing negative thoughts, stress, and pessimistic outlook on life can create a dynamic where you view the world in a bitter way—all because you feel like you are unworthy of feeling okay. In fact, forgiving yourself has been shown to help reduce feelings of depression. If you find yourself plagued by thoughts of past mistakes, start noticing and exploring them. When are they at their worst? What feelings do they bring on? What makes them go away? If you are locked in a never-ending fight with the thoughts, trying to “reason” your way out of them, see if instead you can learn to accept their presence without endorsing their meaning. “I’m having the thought again about the time I really was cruel to my parents. Hi, thought. I hear you there. You can’t hurt me right now, though, because I’m deciding what to have for lunch.”
3) All-or-none thinking. It is amazing how frequently all-or-none thinking seems to underlie such a variety of unhealthy psychological states. From panic to low self-esteem, from perfectionism to hopelessness, it is not uncommon to uncover hidden and not-so-hidden patterns of this dysfunctional thinking in my clients when they are struggling with a negative worldview. What all-or-none thinking does, by its very definition, is make your outlook on life more rigid. It magnifies negativity by making it appear bigger than it really is. It keeps your mind focusing on what’s gone wrong rather than what’s gone right, and it sets you up to see the bad in people, things, and life more often than the good. See if you can catch yourself making this mistake in daily life. Are you inherently uncomfortable with shades of gray, and do you prefer things to be more black-and-white? That might be good for organizing a closet, but when it comes to how you process bad things happening, it can hurt you.
4) Holding others to a higher standard than you hold yourself. When you are constantly disappointed and annoyed with people around you, it could mean that you are having an unlucky break and not being treated the way you deserve. It could also mean that you are choosing ill-fitting people to accompany you throughout life. Or, more likely, it could mean that you have a set of overly rigid standards for other people’s behavior that you don’t apply to yourself. In fact, sometimes we are hardest on others when we see our own traits in them—things that we don’t like to admit or look at. Seeing them in others makes us uncomfortable. Like the classic hypocrite who crusades against sins far smaller than the one he or she commits in their private life, it’s bound to create a disconnect within us that causes stress, hostility, and negativity. Examine what’s really going on when you’re chronically frustrated with someone, whether it’s the stranger in the left-hand turn lane or your messy roommate. Are you looking at the whole picture? What if you, instead of bathing in the negative energy, chose to reflect on the last time you made a mistake and the way it may have looked to others? Sending empathy to others, even when you least want to, can be a surprisingly powerful tool to take away the anger.
5) Believing that things will never get better. Severe hopelessness can be particularly dangerous, putting people at increased risk for depression and even suicide. But even milder beliefs about how things will never improve can do significant damage day-to-day. “My sister will never get her act together,” “I’ll never be able to pay off my student loans,” and “The world is a bad place and getting worse” are all beliefs that show hopelessness and can blind a person to significant evidence to the contrary. A lifetime is, for most of us, a decades-long ride that sees many highs and many lows, and many ebbs and many flows. Believing that there is a downward trajectory obstructs the beauty of everyday things and keeps you hopelessly and inaccurately believing negative ideas—giving them a staying power in you that they don’t deserve. Imagine how much peace you can feel simply by allowing yourself to believe that harmonious and beautiful things are out there in the world, yet to be experienced. It takes practice to see them, but they are there and always will be.
6) Believing you have less control over your life than you really do. Learned helplessness, first identified by Martin Seligman, involves the belief that we don’t have control over our situations even in cases when we do, and so we convince ourselves we shouldn’t even bother to try. This mindset has been shown to be correlated with depression, and for some people it follows a period of time when they really did not have much control over their lives—perhaps suffering from abuse or neglect, for example. But when the beliefs that we have no power persist after we, in actuality, have gained power back, we deny ourselves the potential to make our lives better. And we increase the likelihood that we view the world as an inherently demoralizing place, convincing ourselves that we can’t make a difference. The more that we can feel that we can steer our own ship, the more we can build a life that suits us. Are you underestimating your ability to get out of that dead-end job, find a partner that treats you well, or develop a peaceful resolution to your years-long fight with your brother? If so, you are doing yourself a great disservice—and increasing your chances of letting your mindset harden into a bitter one.
7) Believing the myth of arrival. The myth of arrival refers to the idea that once you have “arrived” at a certain point in your life, everything will fall into place and the life you have waited for will finally begin. But sometimes this belief, that things will automatically get better once a certain thing happens, can be nearly as damaging as believing that things will never improve, because the former sets you up for a devastating letdown when things actually don’t get better. “Once I finally meet the one/get my promotion/lose those twenty pounds/live in a bigger house/get my kids settled into independent and successful lives… then I’ll be happy” are common ways of thinking. But putting our happiness on hold and in the hands of a random life event that may or may not have any effect whatsoever on our happiness is giving way too much power to an external situation and not nearly enough to ourselves. It robs us of the ability to find joy on our own terms. It makes us miss the proverbial journey because we’re so over-focused on the destination. And worst of all, it sets us up for the crash that comes when we realize that it wasn’t those twenty pounds that were making us depressed—it was the fact that we were depressed, for different reasons entirely, that made us put on twenty pounds in the first place.
8) Overgeneralizing. It was one of the “cognitive errors” that Aaron Beck first identified as putting people at higher risk for depression, and it often manifests itself in believing that if you fail at one thing, you will fail at everything. The tendency to overgeneralize—to turn a setback into a mountain from a molehill—also underlies a lot of people’s thinking patterns who have pervasive negative views of the world outside of themselves. Sometimes this type of thinking can even look like paranoia (“Give anyone an inch, and they will take a mile” or “Just about everyone will take advantage of you if you let them.”) It’s true that not every human being out there is a paragon of virtue, but it’s also true that there is a heck of a lot of goodness if you look for it. And just because there are scammers out there doesn’t mean that you should stop helping those who aren’t. After all, helping others gives us a mood boost. Examine your beliefs to see if you are—against all available evidence—overgeneralizing the world into a dangerous or hostile place, which may show hostility coming from within.
9) Not practicing gratitude. By now you’ve probably heard it, and I’ve written about it in this very space: Being grateful for things big and small brings big changes to your mentalhealth. It is much harder to be bitter about your late-arriving dinner (“I AM NEVER COMING TO THIS RESTAURANT AGAIN!“) and have it ruin your whole night if you allow yourself to acknowledge how gorgeous the blooming trees outside the restaurant window were while you waited, or the fact that you are able to afford to pay someone to cook you a meal at all, or the fact that you were with someone who could make you laugh, no matter how much your stomachs were growling. Some people may think that gratitudemeditation or keeping a list of things that you’re grateful for is hokey. But would you rather be a little hokey or be the person who goes their whole life without the mental and physical health benefits (lessened depression, improved immune system functioning and heart health, among many others) that gratitude brings?
Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., is a speaker and licensed clinical psychologist. She is the author ofThe Friendship Fix and an upcoming book about the psychology of everyday life (stay tuned!), and serves on the faculty of Georgetown University. Her mental health advice column Baggage Check has appeared in the Washington Post Express for more than eleven years. She speaks to audiences large and small about relationships, motivation, and work-life balance and is a television commentator about mental health issues. Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!
Source: Psychology Today
You may not have an intuitive sense of another person’s trustworthiness, but you can learn to notice details that will tip you off to dishonesty.
We would all like to avoid that sinking feeling you get when you realize that you believed a lie someone has told you. As helpful as this would be for avoiding hurt feelings and broken relationships, in the business world a single lie could mean the difference between the success and failure of a business.
Great business owners develop almost a sixth sense for determining when they are being lied to. They have to make quick decisions about who to hire, fire, partner with and offer contracts to, and if they believe lies from the wrong people it could have a devastating impact on the business.
Here are 5 signs someone is lying to you.
They touch their face, mouth or throat.
This subconscious body language may indicate that someone is lying to you. If you notice someone touching their face who normally doesn’t, it is a little red flag to keep in the back of your mind.
They repeat themselves.
If someone begins to stammer, repeating words or phrases, it is a sign that they are trying to think of what to say next. This may indicate that they are concocting a story to tell. Again, compare their nervous speech to their normal speech. Some people always stammer, so for them it would be a normal part of speech, not an indication of dishonesty.
They pause before answering.
A long or abnormal pause before someone answers a question may be a tip-off that they are lying. This is especially true if the answer should be simple and obvious. A pause before answering a seemingly easy question may mean that they are trying to keep track of what they’ve already said and how to keep the lie going.
They look toward the door.
Subconsciously, we look where we want to go, someone who is uncomfortable may look toward a door, or at the minimum break eye contact with you when they are lying. Others may look at their watch, signalling their desire to not spend more time in the conversation.
They don’t blink.
Some avid liars have learned to telegraph confidence, so instead of breaking eye contact, they will stare at you and not blink. If it seems like their eye contact is too intense, it may be a sign they are trying to cover up their nervousness.
You may not have an intuitive sense of another person’s trustworthiness, but you can learn to notice details that will tip you off to dishonesty.
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