If you have not yet come across Byron Katie, I would suggest delving into her work–and then doing The Work.
The idea, in very basic terms, is that every situation and emotion is all dependent on our own perception. It’s about working through those thoughts that eat away at us and getting to the truth of them. And it’s not always easy. Sometimes it comes back on us in ways we don’t expect!
But isn’t that what we want? To be open, vulnerable, brave, honest and kind?
A question that stuck with me from The Work is this one: “Who would I be without this thought?” I find it to be a simple but powerful reminder to stop and evaluate my thoughts and how they impact my behaviour.
For example, if I feel that my colleague doesn’t respect me, I’m likely to act defensive with them, or even make myself smaller and appear insecure during interactions. Or if I think that a family member is upset with me, I may act frostier with them or try to avoid them altogether! The point being that our thoughts dictate our actions, sometimes propelling the perceived negative situation into an even more negative one. And who are we to know that our perceptions and suspicions are true anyway?
Imagining who I might be without this thought is a simple but profound way of encouraging us to analyse our effect on the other person and the way we approach them.
If I feel confident and free and generous, I will behave in a different way with that person–in a way that is more conducive to a positive conversation or relationship. Altering our perception really can change the outcome.
Try it. See how it goes. And please do let me know how you get on!