Thinking Positively About Others

When you keep on getting let down by others again and again, your mind will want to find a reason why this keeps on happening. As mentioned in my last post, the practice of coming up with a reason to settle one’s anxiety in this area of uncertainty is called rationalization. There are many reasons one can come up with, all of which are impossible to prove, but here’s one that works well:

“All of us are imperfect and in the process of becoming better people. I notice this area of imperfection more because my excellence in this area causes me to have higher standards. I understand that others may have excellence in other areas. There is no better or worse, just different. Rather than expecting others to be like me, I will simply be true to myself and continue to meet my high standards in my own unique area of excellence.”

This kind of rationalization is good for you because it not only gives you a reason, but it is also hopeful for the future, it celebrates our individual differences, it gives others and yourself grace, and it encourages you to continue to do the “right” thing. So that’s positive rationalization.

Next, when we get hurt by others, we are more vulnerable to making negative judgments about others and this can become a dangerous pattern. The challenge is to think positively about others, even when you get hurt. Again, there are many judgments one can come up with, all of which are impossible to prove, but here’s one that works well:

Choose to believe that your wrongdoers have incredible value and worth. Choose to look at them as masterpieces who just don’t happen to be everyone’s cup of tea, like Jackson Pollock’s paintings. Let me go even more extreme. What is the most common thing that people value so much that they would give up everything for it, that they would even die for it? It’s your own child. When you think about someone who’s wronged you, try to think about them as a beloved child of someone very important.

“But Daniel, I know their parents and they’re not very important people.”

And as long as you think like this, you will limit your positivity.

But what if you chose to stretch your imagination as far as thinking that they are beloved children of a living spiritual entity of utmost importance. And that this higher power values them so much that He died for them. Sounds a bit crazy because it’s way too ridiculously positive, right? But that is what I choose to believe. And though it’s not easy, it’s been amazing!

What you choose to believe about others, whether it is based on measurable evidence or not, will affect your love, respect, grace, and openness toward others.

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6 thoughts on “Thinking Positively About Others

  1. Pedro says:

    Your posts are wonderful to relate to. Your insights are helping me connect so many things, exciting to become more conscious of our “wiring”. It is also fantastic to connect with like-minded people.

    I have a deep capacity to love, removing as much judgement as possible. Focusing on the other person’s positives and embracing that feeling-state.

    Problem is after period of time, the ability to hold that state becomes challenging as the mind starts to focus negatively.

    I see this also as a spiritual challenge. Not allowing our egos believe/feel we are better than others. Sounds like might be more challenging for OCPDs?

    Regardless, I believe that everything comes down to your beliefs… your spirituality. Suspect it plays a big role in managing this way of being and healing.

    So much more to learn from this site. Thank you Daniel for sharing!

    • Michelle says:

      Pedro – thanks for sharing. I have the same deep capacity to love . . . and a deep capacity to think negatively of people. I wonder if it is more related to high-sensitivity? Daniel discusses this (high sensitivity) in another post, and I think he says that it is common in OCPD-type people. We notice details, so we are probably more likely to see more negatives than other people do. We are more likely to be hurt more deeply as well. This can lead to a spiral of negativity, pain, and anxiety that can be really difficult to get out of (to make an understatement!). When we are in this spiral – at least in my experience – we lose the capacity to love. If I understand the brain science of it correctly, our amygdala has signaled our brainstem that we are in danger, and we go into fight-or-flight mode. Not much room for love there . . .

      It would be interesting to look at the spiritual (Biblical) descriptions of this phenomenon and the spiritually formative practices that would help “rewire” it . . .

      • Pedro says:

        Thanks Michelle. That sounds about perfect. Deep capacity to love and feel neg. emotions. That makes sense for me why I like to keep a freedom to my life.. freedom and flexibility to interact with people on a limited basis so I wont lose my loving energy towards them. Being alone makes this much easier, a controlled environment is when the love thrives and I can share it with others (on a limited time-controlled basis).

        I was raised Catholic, strict environment from immigrant parents. Learned a lot how to feel guilt, self pity, and lots of unhealthy spiritual beliefs. I rejected the biblical side almost entirely before and during college. several years later my spirituality started to develop again and a psychedelic experience (and I do not advocate this lightly) gave me a powerful insights.. or felt like truths:

        life is absolutely amazing, complex, mind boggling, etc etc and nobody has any idea who, what “god” is. It is such a complex mystery. but it gave me a massive appreciation of the true assembly of atoms to cells to galaxies and beyond.. life is beyond a gift. how can any of this even be real! sometimes its too shocking to even understand it (like trying to conceptualize infinity) and I want to understand it so badly! But it made me believe VERY deeply in an intelligence but the idea it is anything we try to relate to in human-religions feels limiting. Also I do not know how this higher power relates to me, i no longer have any real certainty about death, what happens after… kinda screwed up my desire to want to be in control of the answer, the truth about life. That said, the experiences and general person growth opened me back up to Jesus’ teachings, values and Biblical insights which i find are very wise, deep and I seek its truths now as well. my judgement fallen away.

        the other big insight was about control. it shook me up tremendously. i realized how much control i wanted to have in this world, in my life. how much i thought I had and how futile that desire is. so it helped me to “let go” of things more easily but I also recognize that we do have a huge amount of control over our focus, our beliefs and our precious lives on this beautiful world.

        despite these insights, i continue to struggle with certain obsessive-compulsive behaviors, thoughts.. addictions. it is what led me to this site and finding tremendous connection to the material here. this feels like the next step to growing, developing my spiritual beliefs, practices.

  2. Mike says:

    I highly doubt the majority of people let you down in any way most see as a ‘let down’ or not being loyal or dependable or good hearted. Your world view is affected w ocpd. I keep seeing it over and over again with this personality disorder. Please just take your meds already. The rest of us are so tired of the roller coaster. We take our meds for our conditions.

    • Daniel Kim says:

      So what if it’s not considered a let down by the majority? Should we then ignore, disregard, and invalidate the feelings of the minority for our own pleasure of not having to bother with that “roller coaster?” Sure that sounds more convenient for the majority. But I prefer a world where we show understanding to the difficult feelings of others (regardless of whether they are the majority or the minority), where we reflect the attitude “even though this roller coaster is inconvenient for me, I still want to put you above that and want you to know that I care.”

      Medicine, unfortunately, does not magically supply the positivity that so many people with OCPD need, which is why I write what I write.

      But nice try at attempting to offer a solution.

    • Michelle says:

      Ummm – yes, his “world view” is affected by his OCPD – have you notice the title of the blog? While his posts can I’m sure help anyone open to them, they are especially aimed toward helping those of us who struggle with characteristics of this personality disorder. I personally appreciate the reminder, Daniel. You are further along the road than I am. 😉 But what you have to say is not only I’m sure based in experience – but it is also based in neuroscience/neurobiology and psychology. I know that what you say here is true. Just as we can get “addicted to negativity” (as you discuss in an earlier vlog), we can change our thinking patterns by focusing attention intentionally in a positive and more healthy way. God bless.

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