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1. Others have reasons for having opinions that differ from yours
Thanks to social media and the internet, differing opinions seem to be far more prevalent now than they have ever been. But truthfully, social media and the internet has just exposed the world for how it’s always been – a place where different people hold different opinions and perspectives on the same topic. As a result, this can lead to hostilities and unnecessary angry outbursts.
But in actuality, it’s actually pretty rare to encounter someone who disagrees with you for the sole intention of trying to annoy and anger you (of course, there is the exception here and there, but it’s not as prevalent as you may be prone to thinking). Different people have different backgrounds, and I mean in terms of the environment in which they were raised in, the environment they’re in now as adults, the education they’ve received, the information they’ve received, the quality of their sources of information, and their own individual life experiences. As a result, different people hold different opinions and perspectives about the same topic.
Just because someone holds an opinion that differs from yours doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, it just means they’ve received different (or sometimes less) information than you have en route to forming their opinion. Which leads me to my next point.
2. Have intelligent dialogue, not hostile arguments
As I mentioned in the previous point, different people have different opinions and perspectives about the same topic for a variety of reasons. Even if you think your opinion is the ‘correct’ one (and you probably do feel that way, otherwise you probably wouldn’t have that particular opinion), you should open up your mind to seeing things from other perspectives. You do not need to agree with the other side of the ‘argument’, but for the sake of your own personal growth it is great to be able to at least understand things from the other side’s perspective. In addition, regardless of how much you already know, and how you view the world around you, you can practically always learn something new from someone else. This includes people who you may be ‘smarter’ than in a given topic as well. I wrote an article on this topic, entitled ‘Respecting Other People’s Opinion: Encourage Dialogue, Not Hostilities‘ a few months ago, which I encourage you to check out when you have a spare moment.
3. Don’t overgeneralise – Be willing to get more facts before making your conclusion(s)
I completely understand our desire to minimise surprises, to not want to be made a fool of, and to be right all the time. After all, it’s a natural survival instinct of ours because ‘threats’ can’t creep up on us if we’re expecting them and able to predict their emergence. But much of the time, there’s no harm in taking the time to wait for more information to emerge or to dig for more information because you form your conclusion and opinion on something. There’s also no harm in being willing to alter and change your conclusion and opinion as you obtain new information.
4. You will always have something to be angry or stress out about
Simply put, as Mo Gawdat has said, our brains are prone to thinking that everything is wrong because our brain constantly scans the world for ‘threats’. After all, our brain’s primary purpose is to make sure that we remain alive. Regardless of how ‘perfect’ your life seems and how successful you are in your life, you will always be able to find at least one more thing that’s ‘bothering’ you to some extent. The key here is for you to realise that more often than not, what is stressing you out, or even angering you, probably isn’t even that important in the grand scheme of things.
5. Most people, if not everyone, feels Imposer Syndrome at times
Successful people still have negative thoughts, times of doubt, feelings as though they don’t deserve their success, and feelings as though their accomplishments aren’t a big deal. Although it was a goal of mine for years to finish undergrad, get accepted into grad school, and obtain a master’s degree, I’ll still be the first one to tell you that there are times I look at my diploma on the wall and think to myself: ‘So what? Anyone could’ve done this. In fact, I graduated with several people who received this same degree.’
Remember, you made the decision to take action towards your goals and you accomplished them. I’m by no means giving you permission to take on a superior and arrogant mindset, but I am saying that it’s OK to take satisfaction in the success you’ve experienced to date because although everyone is capable of being successful, not everyone decides to take the actions necessary to become successful.
6. It’s more productive to be inspired
It’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy, and generally this is the case. But I do think that it’s OK to periodically look around and see what others are doing, because this lets you see what’s possible, and it can provide you with inspiration. After all, if someone else is doing something awesome then chances are you can do it too, as long as you’re willing to put in the necessary work to develop your skills.
It’s when you fixate too much on others, and compare yourself to others too much (often times, you’ll find yourself comparing your novice self to someone else’s expert self) that you run into problems. This is where you often encounter feelings of jealousy, inferiority, and end up lowering your own morale and self-esteem. As I said, it’s fine to look at the world around you for inspiration, but keep your primary focus on what you’re doing and your own progress because as Simon Sinek said, joy comes from advancement, not from comparison.
7. Balance a mindset of gratitude and growth
Ed Mylett has called this ‘blissful dissatisfaction’ in which you’re happy with where you are now, but you still strive for more. In my experience, I find that feelings of frustration to some extent are common, regardless of where you are in life, because you’re prone to feeling that you’re selling yourself short and getting complacent (this can happen even when you feel gratitude), feel that you’re not where you want to be (this is common when you’re chasing a goal), or feeling as though you’re not balancing a gratitude and gracious mindset ‘perfectly’. Feelings of frustration are annoying, but they’re OK. Also, if someone has tips on how to better balance gratitude and a growth-oriented mindset, please pass them along because I’m always looking to balance the two better.
8. Just be you, because you attract what you put out into the world
As Simon Sinek has said, say and do what you believe, and you will attract what you do and believe. So simply put, behave like your natural and authentic self. Instead of putting on a fake facade, be willing to be the person that you enjoy being, and you’ll attract others than you’ll naturally vibe with. You won’t get along perfectly with everyone, and that’s OK.
Matthew Buckley is an organisational psychologist. He holds a master’s degree in organisational psychology from the University of New Haven.
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